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The curious case of Cody Doolin's departure

An altercation leaves the Dons without the playmaker who tore through the Johnnies in the Bay Area last season.

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

It was supposed to be a fun game/ sightseeing adventure, an expansion of horizons, a test in the West, a visit to honor Steve Lavin's father Cap.

But even before tip-off last December, the quality of the San Francisco Dons sent the Vegas betting lines tilting toward USF; and on the court, one player made the oddsmakers' predictions come true.

Cody Doolin, a mop-haired point guard with solid size and a crafty dribble who led Rex Walters' Dons, took advantage of St. John's defense and, in the words of Lavin on other occasions, sliced the Red Storm up like a side of fries.

Score: 81-65.

Cody Doolin's 14 assists, 18 points, and 10 free throw attempts told the tale of an unheralded veteran guard in control, proving his skill against a major-conference foe.

Tomorrow, he'll be on campus in San Francisco, or maybe home in Austin, Texas if his finals are done, finished with basketball. Doolin chose to step away from the Dons program, and the game, abruptly after logging 39 minutes in an overtime game vs Idaho State.

What happened?

Days after Doolin's initial release, the USF Athletic Director Scott Sidwell revealed that Doolin left after a "physical altercation" in practice. Interestingly, AD Sidwell traveled to Texas to "make sure that (Doolin) knew that the University of San Francisco was here for him as a person first."

From SF Chronicle article linked above:

"Tempers flared, it went too far and unfortunately, there was an altercation that ensued," Sidwell said in a phone interview. "And at the end of the day, we want to make sure that our student athletes know and our coaches know that that's not acceptable.

"We're going to take corrective measures to make sure that this never happens again."

Given Rex Walters' heavy turnover rate in the program - six players transferred out before last season, and UCLA transfer De`end Parker left in the recent offseason - losing the star point guard four games into his senior season turned some eyebrows.

Digging into the rumor mill, an intriguing post by Pete Newell's son, Greg, says that the "facts will come out and it will NOT bode well for Rex Walters" (with an unsourced, detailed description of what happened). Doolin's AAU coach wrote that "this event (coupled with past circumstances) will merit a full review internally by the San Francisco athletic director, likely all the way up to the school’s top academic administrator and eventually by the NCAA."

Those statements aren't fact-checked. We don't know what happened. But we do know that watching a team leader who was averaging 13 points (and coming off of a career-high 33 against Nevada) and seven assists leave is very uncommon in college basketball.

The Dons aren't empty. Cole Dickerson is still a solid big man. Kruize Pinkins has been a strong force for them. And Penn State transfer Matt Glover has combined with Avry Holmes to play solid guard.

"We're going to be more structured without Cody," Walters said. "We don't have that same type of playmaking. We have good playmaking, but it's different."