Harty: McCaffery had faith in Jok and got burned

By Pat Harty
Iowa's Peter Jok drives around a Nebraska-Omaha defender during their game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013.

Original publish date: July 16, 2014

Iowa men's basketball coach Fran McCaffery had no reasonable choice but to suspend Peter Jok.

McCaffery took a chance on his 6-foot-6 sophomore shooting guard from West Des Moines, only to have his trust betrayed.

McCaffery would have been justified in suspending Jok after he was arrested for drunken driving on his moped in late April. But it seems McCaffery wanted to punish Jok less severely as if to say, 'Hey, we all make mistakes,' and hope that Jok would learn from it.

That approach seemed acceptable, but it backfired when Jok was charged Monday with driving while license revoked or denied, barely two months after his previous arrest.

McCaffery was burned for having faith in Jok. You could almost sense the anger and embarrassment in the statement McCaffery released Tuesday about Jok's indefinite suspension.

"In light of last night's moped incident, I've decided to suspend Peter Jok indefinitely from all University of Iowa basketball related activities," McCaffery said. "We support Peter, but we're not happy with his recent pattern of behavior."

McCaffery might unload on his players every now and then when something goes wrong during a game or during practice. But for the most part, he's a player's coach who goes out of his way to support them publicly and who is willing to forgive.

That seemed apparent when Jok told reporters on June 19 — nearly two months after his arrest for OWI — that he and McCaffery still hadn't discussed any specific punishment.

Perhaps McCaffery was just waiting to see how Jok would handle the adversity during the summer before administering discipline. Or maybe McCaffery felt that Jok had learned his lesson through the public shame of being arrested and that being punished by the legal system and disciplined behind the scenes under the UI Student Code of Conduct would be enough in terms of consequences.

Whatever the case, Jok failed to live up to expectations and now must pay a price.

Jok was cited Monday for improper lights and failure to have a safety flag on his moped, which is inexcusable because that's also what caused him to be pulled over and charged with OWI in late April.

However, even more inexcusable is that he drove his moped while his license is revoked. It makes you wonder if Jok truly understands or cares about the consequences of his behavior.

Jok's behavior hardly qualifies as sinister. Words like irresponsible and naive seem more appropriate.

How he responds to this is strictly up to Jok. He still has McCaffery's support, but probably not his trust anymore. That will have to be earned, just like Jok's driving privileges.

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