The basketball careers of Sheldon Cooley and Marcus Dubose are officially over at East Tennessee State.
The senior guards, who had been on indefinite suspension since their arrest Nov. 19, have been dismissed from the team, coach Murry Bartow said Wednesday.
“After further study and thinking it through, we made a decision to dismiss them,” said Bartow. “Any coach, you’re tolerant to a point. When guys cross the line, or it’s a repeat situation, trust is broken and they can’t represent your program any longer. That’s where we ended up with Sheldon and Marcus.”
Cooley, of Tampa, Fla., and Dubose, of Hartsville, S.C., played in two games this season before being arrested on marijuana charges.
Agents with the First Judicial Drug Task Force reportedly intercepted a suspicious package delivered to an ETSU post office box. The package was addressed to Dubose and was found to contain a quarter-pound of marijuana buds.
Dubose was charged with possession of schedule VI drugs for resale after arriving to pick up the package. He and Cooley, his roommate, were also charged with possession of drug paraphernalia when agents found scales commonly used to weigh marijuana in their on-campus apartment.
A hearing for the players Monday was reset until Dec. 20 in Washington County Sessions Court.
Dubose and Cooley were the Bucs’ top returning scorers, and they led the way in their final game, a 65-62 home loss to Tennessee Tech two days before their arrest. The contest ended when Cooley missed a potential game-tying shot at the buzzer.
Cooley started 37 games in his career at ETSU, while Dubose started 22 last season after transferring in from Mendocino Community College in California, where he had led his conference in scoring. Cooley’s junior year ended prematurely when he was charged with filing a false police report after a burglary at his apartment.
“When we recruit -- and I’ve been here 10 years and had very few problems – we really don’t compromise on the type of character we want in the person we bring in,” said Bartow. “We try to bring in guys who will be good at ETSU, good in our program, good in the Johnson City community. We evaluate that very carefully.
“Unfortunately in this situation, some things happened that crossed the line.”