KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas State forward Nae’Qwan Tomlin was dismissed from the team late Wednesday, more than a month after his arrest for disorderly conduct, triggering a wave of criticism aimed at the school administration from some fans.
Tomlin averaged 10.4 points in 36 games last season, and was a big part of the Wildcats’ surprise run to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament. He considered turning pro after the season but ultimately decided to return to the program.
He was arrested following a bar fight in October, and Kansas State coach Jerome Tang immediately suspended him “for not living up to the expectations of our players.” But as the season progressed, many Kansas State fans were antsy for Tomlin’s return to the team, even chanting his name during an overtime win against Villanova this week.
As some fans began calling and emailing administrators, including Kansas State president Richard Linton, athletic director Gene Taylor finally issued a statement that said Tomlin “will no longer be able to continue with the K-State men’s basketball team.”
“This decision was not made lightly by me,” he said, “but it is the decision warranted by the circumstances that brought it to bear.”
Taylor said he had been “monitoring the situation” along with Tang but declined to share any specifics of the case, citing federal privacy laws. That includes whether there were factors beyond the initial bar fight that led to his decision.
Earlier in the day, Tomlin posted on Instagram the lyrics from a song that said: “I want to be free, free, free.” The 6-foot-10 forward is scheduled to graduate at the semester, and because he has yet to play for the Wildcats this season, Tomlin could transfer to another school and play for the remainder of the season.
“Allowing for space and time is critical,” Taylor said, “but in today’s digital age, that unfortunately can lead to the spread of rumors and misinformation — and in this case, much of the information on social media is incorrect.
“We stand united to do what is best for this young man’s personal development and growth,” Taylor continued, “and to do what is best to uphold the values of our teams and our university at large.”
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