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Off-field issues adding up for Gophers

Penn State went through a spell of player arrests. So did Iowa. Michigan State wants to finally move past the residence hall mess that resulted in 11 players pleading guilty to assault.

Now Minnesota appears to be the Big Ten team struggling to keep its players out of the blotter.

Gophers junior linebacker Gary Tinlsey faces two felony charges and three misdemeanors following his arrest early Sunday. According to Minneapolis police, Tinsley, 20, and another person were driving mopeds in the wrong direction down a one-way street when an officer ordered them to stop. Both kept driving and one of them, later identified as Tinsley, fled on foot before being caught by University of Minnesota police.

Tinsley, a projected starter at linebacker, faces felony charges of fleeing police in a vehicle and on foot, as well as misdemeanor charges of driving while intoxicated, reckless driving and traffic law enforcement. He remained in Hennepin County jail as of Monday night. No disciplinary action has been announced yet, but Minnesota officials, including athletics director Joel Maturi, are gathering more information about Tinsley's case.

"We're disappointed," Maturi told the (St. Paul) Pioneer Press. "We're frustrated. I believe we'll handle it appropriately. Once we know all the facts, we'll make a decision on how to respond."

Tinsley also was cited for underage drinking and fleeing police following an alleged fight in late September, though he wasn't suspended from the team.

Minnesota has endured several other player arrests in the last four months. Starting safety Kyle Theret was indefinitely suspended last month after being cited for driving while impaired. Linebacker Sam Maresh, a candidate for a starting position whose comeback from a heart ailment attracted national attention, twice has been cited for underage drinking in recent weeks.

Two other Minnesota players, running back Kevin Whaley and offensive lineman Ryan Wynn, were arrested during the team's trip to the Insight Bowl in Arizona. Whaley, who came to Minnesota with a checkered past, left the team following a suspension, while Wynn is practicing this spring. Cornerback Michael Carter was arrested in November but didn't face a suspension.

The incidents are adding up, which isn't a good sign heading into a pivotal year for this program and its coaching staff.

Head coach Tim Brewster started his Minnesota tenure by making a strong statement on conduct when he dismissed four players allegedly involved in a rape of an 18-year-old woman, including star cornerback Dominic Jones.

"We spend a considerable amount of time addressing our players regarding their personal conduct and we will not compromise our values," Brewster said in a statement at the time. "We are establishing a culture of integrity and we will demand that our players are held accountable for their actions."

Sounds like it's time for this message to be relayed to Minnesota players once again.