Seemingly compared to other major programs across the nation, the Gonzaga men’s basketball team has gotten off relatively scot-free when it comes players violating codes of conduct. There have been a couple of instances, but not too many.
That is why it is so unfortunate to see Josh Perkins’ name added to the list. The sophomore guard was cited for “physical control of a vehicle while under the influence” at approximately 4:00 am, on October 9. It is an unfortunate transgression for Perkins, but also a stark reminder that the student-athletes at the university level are still prone to the same bone-headed mistakes as the average American.
It isn’t a very long history, but Mark Few has shown a full willingness to disciple a player, no matter what the cost to the season might be. While other programs around the nation might suspend their quarterback for the second quarter against a random FBS opponent, Few has shown a pattern of making his players earn their trust back.
The biggest example comes from Josh Heytvelt, who was charged with felony possession of a controlled substance in February 2007. Few dropped the hammer hard, and he dropped it fast. He indefinitely suspended Heytvelt and teammate Theo Davis (who was in the car at the time). In terms of the 2006-07 season, the suspension was huge. That year, the Zags had lost four-straight to limp into conference play with a 9-6 record. At the time of his suspension, Heytvelt was the leading scorer on the team. Said Few at the time to the Spokesman Review:
“I’ve never had to deal with this in all my years here. I haven’t been able to sleep or eat. It’s so emotional. You’re so disappointed, so mad … you’ve got to take time to think it out, let some things prevail and see what’s best for the university, the program and the kids.”
Heytvelt would remain suspended from the team for eight months, and was reinstated prior to the start of the 2007-08 season. At the time, Few said he was against the reinstatement, but was impressed with Heytvelt’s commitment to amending the wrong.
Few again showed devotion to discipline with Kelly Olynyk, who opened the 2012-13 season serving a three-game suspension for a violation of student-conduct. This was despite the fact that the coaching staff had nothing but rave reviews to say for the output of the Olynyk Clinic.
All of this brings us to the present. Few specifically has shown complete willingness to let the school take the lead on players that violate the student code of conduct, and he has also shown a complete willingness to distribute a bit of tough love in the process. At the moment, it is useless to try and predict what the future holds for Few and Perkins, but it is safe to say that history has shown Few doesn’t let his players off easily.