Hanson dismissed from Pack basketball team
Appeal Sports Writer
RENO – Sophomore Tyrone Hanson, who was expected to play a big role on the Nevada men’s basketball team this season, has been booted off the squad for violations of team policy.
The decision was announced by Nevada head coach Mark Fox at a hastily called press conference Tuesday night at Legacy Hall.
The 20-year-old Hanson, who appeared in 30 games last year, was the victim of a beating and robbery at a Reno party Saturday night where three people were shot and killed by four young men who busted in on the party.
Fox was quick to point out that Hanson’s dismissal was not because of the tragedy. The fourth-year head coach expressed deep sympathy for the victims, their family and friends during the press conference.
“Prior to the tragic events of Saturday night, Tyrone had been held out of Saturday’s scrimmage (against Loyola-Marymount) for violating our team rules,” Fox said. “He again violated our policy by going out socially that evening when he had been directed not to.
“Tyrone and other student-athletes in attendance (at the party) did not break the law, but Tyrone understands the high standard of behavior that is expected in our program. Although this is an extremely difficult time for him, he is one of the lucky ones for the true victims are the three young people who lost their lives. Tyrone will work to finish his courses, and we hope he can find success in the future.”
Police reports said that Hanson was involved in a heated discussion with one of the shooters, Samisone Taukitoku. According to reports, Taukitoku had bumped Hanson where people were dancing.
Hanson, a solid 3-point shooter, was not present at the press conference, but the university released a statement from him.
“This has been a very trying past few days for me,” Hanson said. “However, the real victims in this are the three people who lost their lives. I extend my deepest sympathies to their friends and families.
“I have enjoyed my time here at Nevada, and I am sad to see it come to an end. I want to thank coach Fox for helping me understand what it means to be a man. I thank my teammates for their support and also thank my coaches for their assistance on and off the court.”
Fox said that he has made some phone calls in an attempt to line up a college for Hanson to transfer to, but did not identify the school.
“It’s important to find him a place to go if he can’t play here,” Fox said. “In fairness to Tyrone, I decided not to take questions.”
Cary Groth, Nevada athletic director, said it’s not surprising that Fox is helping Hanson find another school to play at.
“We do that all the time,” she said. “Student-athletes leave an institution for one reason or another, and coaches will help to find a college that is the best fit for a student-athlete. We don’t leave the student-athlete hanging. Coach Fox is like a surrogate father to these kids. He’ll do everything he can to help them.”
Groth said she supported Fox’s decision to dismiss Hanson.
“Coach Fox said it best,” Groth said. “It’s not as tough on us as it is on the (three) families.
“We hold student-athletes to a higher set of standards. They are high-profile. They are different than the other students on campus. They (the athletes there) didn’t do anything wrong. Unfortunate circumstances happened.
“I think he asked the entire team not to go out.”
It’s been rumored that other members of the basketball team were at the party, but left well before the trouble. That hasn’t been verified one way or another by university or law enforcement officials.
Groth, however, said that the school wasn’t going to change its policies regarding athletes going to parties.
“They need to experience college life,” Groth said. “They should be able to go to a party with the need to feel safe.”
If anything, Groth said she would hope that the university would continue to provide a good education to help student-athletes and students make good decisions and use good judgment.
Groth said that she convened a meeting of all student-athletes, athletic department staff and coaches earlier in the evening before the press conference to discuss the situation.