IOWA CITY — Iowa running back Marcus Coker has been suspended from the Insight Bowl for disciplinary reasons, according to the University.
A university release stated that Coker violated University of Iowa policies and the UI Student-Athlete Code of Conduct.
The sophomore from Beltsville, Md., will not travel with the team to Tempe, site of Iowa’s Dec. 30 game against Oklahoma.
Coker is the second-leading rusher in the Big Ten with 1,384 yards, fourth on Iowa’s all-time season list, and 15 touchdowns. Coker was the offensive MVP of Iowa’s victory over Missouri in last season’s Insight Bowl, gaining 219 yards and scoring two TDs.
“It is unfortunate that Marcus Coker will not be with the team for our bowl game,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said in a release. “During the next 10 days, we will focus and continue to prepare the players that are able to participate.”
The UI Student-Athlete Code of Conduct covers a wide range of rules and is rather open-ended outside the realm of law enforcement.
There are two levels of Code of Conduct violations — Category I and Category II. Coker’s name didn’t come up on checks with University of Iowa and Iowa City Police Departments on Tuesday, so that would apparently rule out the first two conditions for a Category I or II violation — a felony conviction and a probation violation.
Also, Johnson County Attorney Janet Lyness said Tuesday her office isn’t investigating anything involving Coker, who was with the team as late as Sunday.
Beyond arrest, the Code of Conduct includes violations of athletics department policies; violation of UI policies, rules, and/or regulations, including: The University of Iowa’s Code of Student Life; Academic dishonesty in violation of University, college, school, or department standards; Violation of any University student conduct regulation; or Willfully giving false and malicious information to a University official.
This action would have to be routed through Iowa athletics director Gary Barta, who spoke briefly on the subject during the Iowa women’s basketball game Tuesday night.
“I can’t say anything beyond what was in the release,” Barta said. Barta said he talked about the situation with Ferentz, as they would with anything of this nature.
He was asked if this was a team/coach decision or department decision, “It was a department decision. It was a violation of our Student Code of Conduct.”
December has been the unkindest month for Iowa running backs. Last December, running back Adam Robinson was suspended from the Insight Bowl for violations of team rules. That also was when coach Kirk Ferentz announced that running back Jewel Hampton was leaving the team.
As for Iowa’s running back position for the Insight Bowl, an Iowa running back barely exists after Coker.
Redshirt freshman De’Andre Johnson is the No. 2 rusher with 79 yards on 18 carries. He’s been passed on the depth chart this year by true freshmen Jordan Canzeri and Damon Bullock. Canzeri has returned to practice after missing the last two weeks of the season with a hamstring injury. Bullock has moved back to wide receiver, where he started the season.
Senior Jason White has been listed as the No. 2 running back all season, but he’s never actually played that role.
True freshman Mika’il McCall remains under suspension. He was suspended for an unspecified violation of team rules after Iowa’s game at Purdue on Nov. 19. McCall would’ve been the No. 2 running back, but he suffered a broken ankle in the season opener that kept him sidelined for nine games.
“He’s still under suspension right now,” Ferentz said Dec. 4, when Iowa was picked for the Insight Bowl. When asked if he’d be back for the bowl, Ferentz said, “We’ll wait and see, we’ll wait and see.”