We do want to address the situation that happened with Alexis Wangmene directly with you. Instead of the short clips and sound bites that you may have read online, seen on television or heard on the radio, we would prefer you hear all of Coach Barnes’ comments that he said to the local media at our availability on Thursday. We know this will be a much lengthier “Insider” report, but we do feel we owe our fans and supporters the complete information.
On if Alexis Wangmene will play this weekend: He’s not going to play this weekend (at Colorado).
On Alexis Wangmene: I don’t think there’s any question that everybody’s disappointed. I know Lexi’s disappointed. I know he’s embarrassed by it. I know in talking to his family that he knows it was something that he regrets. But I also think we’re blessed in the fact that it could have been tragic. With that being said, we take it extremely serious. It’s going to give us a great teaching opportunity for not only Lex but our entire team. It’s something that you don’t ever sweep under the rug, because to me it’s extremely serious.
The thing that I regret as a coach, there’s nothing as coaches that we don’t cover at the beginning of the year. I’m telling you, every coach in the country is going to cover anything that you think that you have to do when you deal with the team. I made a mistake in terms of it can’t just be at the beginning of the year. We all get caught up in our day-to-day things and we trust our athletes. We’re hoping they’re all going to do the right thing, but as coaches, I can tell you going forward, we’re not going to go a long time without talking about something other than basketball. We’ve got to keep that reminder as opposed to waiting. Again, are we shocked? Absolutely.
On if he was surprised: I don’t think I would expect it from anybody on our team, anybody. We’ve got great guys. Whenever it happens it’s disappointing. I do know that we have an obligation to the University of Texas’ alumni, season-ticket holders, people that care, to the media, you guys have a job to do. We have an obligation to our players. When we sign players, and I can only tell you what I told his family: I promise you that we’re going to do everything we can to do what I would want done for my son. That’s what we’re going to do. We all have to learn from it. We talked about it as a team. Lex stood in front of the team and told them what happened and apologized to them. There’s no doubt he’s hurt by it. He’s certainly very remorseful about it. He knows he disappointed and hurt a lot of people, but we’re going to learn from it. We’re going to love him. I don’t want him to act like he’s going to be ostracized for it, but it’s serious. This is a serious thing. You just can’t do that. Like I said, we’re blessed that a tragedy didn’t come out of it in terms of somebody losing their life.
On how you move forward: We’re going to deal with it, but we’re not just going to act like ‘OK, you’ve got the plague or something here.’ We’re not doing that. He’s doing his part and we’re going to do our part. He’s working out and he’s not going to play Saturday. I will say this to you and I hope I can explain this right. The games to me aren’t the big thing in this. I think it’s like anything, when a child or somebody does something wrong, sometimes you have to take something away from them, but that’s not the real issue here. The real issue is how do we go forward to help not only him understand, but us. Yet, there’s a penalty you have to pay. I think certainly the embarrassment he feels like he’s brought on himself, the program and his family hurts. We do have to do things. When we found out about it, we got on it and we’ve been doing the things that we think need to be done. I just hope in the future that we all can learn from it, and certainly I hope it never happens again.
On if he will play Monday: In terms of games, he definitely will [be ready to play Monday]. I don’t like to use the word suspended. I don’t like that word. It’s part of the punishment that he was going to miss two games here. I don’t even like using the word punishment. If you’re going to use the word punishment, it would be games. But everything else, the other things we’re going to require him to do and all that, I don’t look at it as punishment. It’s just things that have to be done. If you want to say, ‘What is the punishment?’ I guess you would say missing two games. In terms of everything else that we’re going to do for our program, our entire program, let’s use it as an educational experience.