Apr 12, 2012

Tom Izzo, Michigan State reinstates Derrick Nix to Spartans basketball team after marijuana-related issue

Photo -- Associated Press: Spartans senior-to-be Derrick Nix is getting another shot at being the leader of the Michigan State basketball team. He's capable of it. Hopefully he learned a valuable lesson from his recent drug-related court case.

By Adam Biggers

Derrick Nix will get his chance to lead the Michigan State Spartans basketball team next season.

The senior-to-be was recently charged with marijuana possession and operating a vehicle with the presence of drugs, but pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of impaired driving Thursday in a court in East Lansing. The marijuana possession charges were dropped, according to a report from CBS Sports and MLive.com.

Nix has had his ups-and-downs during his career at Michigan State. He's battled weight issues since leaving Detroit Pershing High, and even contemplated leaving the Spartans prior to the 2010 Maui Invitational. However, he matured greatly this season and helped lead the Spartans to the Sweet 16.

He caught a break Thursday. Hopefully he'll learn from his recent transgressions. 

"I (got to) become a man," Nix said, according to the CBS report, which cited the Detroit Free Press.

Initially, I had my doubts. I wasn't sure if Nix's issue from just over a week ago was a sign of prior problems. And if they were, I thought it would be best for Spartans coach Tom Izzo to cut ties with Nix. Izzo had put up with several team-related behavioral issues which led him to clean house and dismiss Chris Allen and Korie Lucious from the program. If Nix was on his way to becoming the next Allen or Lucious, he had to go.

From the sound of it, this was an isolated incident. Or, at the very least, an issue that could be handled without dismissal. Nix will be a key component for the Spartans next season. It's good to hear that he's willing to make up for his folly. As a young man, mistakes will be made. As a college athlete on scholarship, mistakes will be magnified, as Nix is held to a higher standard than the typical college student, who doesn't represent their institution at the level an athlete does.

Athletes are on TV and subject to media attention. The average student hanging out in the dorms is not. It may be a double-standard, but it does exist and should be addressed. Likewise, Nix should understand that his drug-related incident is commonplace among college students. They experiment with marijuana, but they're not on a full-ride, nor do they have to answer to Izzo. There is a difference. A huge difference.

As a follower of the college game, I'm glad that Nix is getting a second chance. Furthermore, I'm happy to hear that his court issue won't jeopardize his standing at Michigan State or cast a shadow on his adult life. This was a classic case of bad judgment. Nix needed to make the right call, however, he didn't. He chose to possess marijuana. He chose to smoke it, which led to his impaired driving.

Learn from this and move on, Derrick.

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