Iowa announced Tuesday that Coker, the team's leading rusher, has asked for and has been granted his release from the Hawkeyes. Coker was suspended for the Insight Bowl for disciplinary reasons and the school said it had something to do with the UI Student-Athlete Code of Conduct. However, the university expected Coker to be back for the spring.
"Yes, the invitation is there for him to come back," Iowa athletic director Gary Barta said Dec. 31. "We'll let this play out and see what happens."
A violation of the UI Student-Athlete Code of Conduct requires an appeals process to allow Coker to enroll in spring semester classes, but Coker withdrew his application.
Coker rushed for 1,384 yards and 15 touchdowns this season, second among Big Ten running backs, and was named second-team All-Big Ten. Ironically, he earned his starting spot prior to last year's Insight Bowl when starter Adam Robinson was suspended for "failing to comply with team expectations and policies."
In the past couple seasons, Iowa has had bad luck with its running back corps. In 2010, the Hawkeyes entered the season with Brandon Wegher, Robinson and Jewel Hampton all vying for playing time. Wegher left the team during summer workouts citing personal reasons and was released before Christmas. Hampton had knee problems and also transferred prior to the holiday. Robinson was ultimately kicked off the team for marijuana possession, which opened the door for Coker to rush for 219 yards in a win over Missouri in the Insight Bowl.
This year, backup Mika'il McCall suffered a broken ankle in the season opener and then was suspended for the game against Nebraska. McCall also left the program.
That leaves the Hawkeyes with several inexperienced options at tailback for 2012. Jordan Canzeri led the team with 22 carries for 58 yards in the 31-14 loss to Oklahoma in the bowl game. Jason White also had four carries for 20 yards. Overall, Iowa rushed 37 times for just 76 yards and no scores in Coker's Insight Bowl absence.
Coker is the second major running back this week to transfer following a suspension. Auburn's Michael Dyer also was suspended for the Tigers bowl game and opted to transfer to Arkansas State to follow former offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, who is now the Red Wolves head coach.
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