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No chance of a return for Coker

Marc Morehouse, CR Gazette

Marcus Coker is officially finished at the University of Iowa, Iowa City attorney Leon Spies said Wednesday.

The former Hawkeyes running back withdrew from Iowa on Tuesday. Also Tuesday, Coker was named as a subject in a Iowa City Police Department investigation of an assault that occurred on Oct. 28.

“Yesterday, he withdrew his enrollment and registration at the University of Iowa and he’s moving on,” Spies said. “His career at Iowa is over.”

On his Facebook page Tuesday, Coker expressed frustration with the situation, writing “it’s really ridiculous to be punished for something I didn’t do.” The sophomore, who was second in the Big Ten in rushing with 1,384 yards, told The Gazette on Dec. 30 he wanted to remain at the UI.

Spies said he’s been assisting Coker in his dealings with the University of Iowa. He said there wasn’t much he could say on that front.

“Because of the university’s procedures in cases like this, which are confidential, I’m not at liberty to give you any response,” Spies said when asked if Coker’s suspension and the investigation were linked.

“All I can tell you is that in any decision like this involving a young man of his talents and aspirations, it was a complicated choice,” Spies said. “Fortunately, he had a lot of valuable input from his family, his teammates and friends at the university. He’s a top-drawer young man and it was a very difficult choice.”

Asked about the fact Coker wanted to remain a Hawkeye, Spies said, “A lot of that is what I can’t answer, only because of the limitations imposed on me by my ethics and by university regulations.”

When Coker transfers, he’ll have three years to play two seasons of football. Spies said he didn’t know where Coker would end up.

“That’s factoring in what he and his family are discussing right now,” he said. “As always, his goal has been to be the best student, teammate and citizen he can be. I think he’s still got his eyes on that prize.”

Spies’ statement leaves no room for a turnaround. Coker is finished at Iowa.

Coker was featured in a UI fundraising video this year. He also was profiled in the university’s viewbook, which is sent to prospective students.

And now he’s gone.

UI sports information director Steve Roe said head coach Kirk Ferentz and athletics director Gary Barta wouldn’t have a comment Wednesday. Barta discussed the situation before Tuesday’s basketball game at Michigan State.

“When you put all that time and energy — whenever somebody doesn’t finish with you, because that’s the goal – the goal is to win championships and watch, in this case young men, walk out the door with a degree in their hand,” Barta said, ” so anytime that doesn’t happen – they’re teachers, they’re mentors – so, anytime that doesn’t happen they’re frustrated. And it’s not just this situation; it’s any time it happens.”

Coker was suspended for Iowa’s appearance in the Insight Bowl, with the UI citing a violation in the student-athlete code of conduct. Coker also was the subject the ICPD investigation into an alleged assault that took place Oct. 28, a day before Coker gained 252 yards in a loss at Minnesota.

Spies said Coker was aware of the investigation and Iowa City’s response in the police report that was released.

Here’s a timeline:

Oct. 28, 1:15 to 1:30 a.m. — Incident occured at 618 Iowa Ave., Coker’s residence (according to Iowa City Police incident report)

Oct. 28, 4:53 a.m. — Incident reported to ICPD by victim

Case is listed as “active” and victim was “dispatched to UIHC for a sexual assault.”

Oct. 28, 2:36 p.m. — Charter for the Hawkeyes’ game at Minnesota leaves the Eastern Iowa Airport (link).

Oct. 29 — Coker rushes for career-high 252 yards and two TDs in Iowa’s 22-21 loss.

Dec. 20 — Iowa announces Coker is suspended for the Insight Bowl, citing a violation of University of Iowa policies and the UI student-athlete code of conduct.

Dec. 28 — Iowa athletics director Gary Barta tells reporters at the Insight Bowl, “Yes, the invitation is there for him to come back. We’ll let this play out and see what happens.”

Dec. 30 — Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz says on pregame radio that he expects Coker to come back. “Hope things work out positively.”

Dec. 30 — Coker tells The Gazette via Facebook he wishes to return to the UI, saying “Hawk for life.”

Jan. 10, 2012 — Coker withdraws from the University of Iowa. Details of the ICPD assault investigation are released in answer to an open records request by the Iowa City Press-Citizen.

Jan. 10 — Coker expresses frustration with the situation on Facebook, “Welp so much for that. It was a good 2 years 2 I could of asked for. Thanks again for the support. I really wish I could tell u guys wats goin on cuz its really ridiculous to b punished for somethin I didnt do. Id like to think the coaches and athletic staff for everything. Hawk for life.”

Jan. 11 — Leon Spies, Coker’s attorney, says Coker’s career at Iowa is over and no explanation can be given because of UI regulations.

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