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Bemidji State men's basketball players suspended for conduct violation

Bemidji State men's basketball players Brady Fairbanks, Jimmy Johnson and Sergej Baskow were suspended indefinitely from team activities Tuesday.

All three were suspended by head basketball coach Matt Bowen for violating the Bemidji State University Student-Athlete Code of Conduct.

"Unfortunately people make mistakes," Bowen said in a press release issued Tuesday. "We are following the university's student-athlete code of conduct in this situation and the future involvement of these student-athletes with the BSU men's basketball program will be decided at a later date."

The three juniors have all been key contributors on the team over the last two seasons.

Fairbanks and Johnson have emerged as starters while Baskow has served a bench role this season.

Bowen declined to specify the violation and reiterated the decision to suspend the three juniors was his decision alone.

Bowen also said the suspensions are "100 percent supported" by the BSU administration.

"The Department of Athletics provides education and life-long learning experiences for student-athletes to be successful," BSU Athletic Director Rick Goeb said in the press release. "In some circumstances, as part of the education process, student-athletes realize there are consequences to their actions. That is the case in this situation and I applaud coach Bowen for exhibiting a high degree of integrity and adhering to the high standards expected of our student-athletes."

Fairbanks, a Bena native, was a high school basketball star at Cass Lake-Bena High School and played a key role in the Panthers' runner-up finish at the state tournament in 2007.

Fairbanks is the team's second leading scorer this season with an average of 11 points per game. He started in 17 games last season and finished second in team scoring. He started 20 games as a freshman.

Johnson, an Andover native, stepped into a starting role and has started in all five games this season. He averaged nine points per game and was one of the top rebounders on the team.

Expected to play a major starting role last season, Baskow missed all but six games after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his right knee during a practice last fall. The injury required surgery and he spent much of last winter, spring and summer rehabilitating the knee back into game shape.

The NCAA granted a medical redshirt to Baskow over the summer and he was allowed to retain his junior year of eligibility despite the injury.

The native of Ludwigsburg, Germany, averaged 12 minutes per game this season and averaged just over two rebounds a game.

The suspensions will give opportunities for other players to see expanded playing time.

Tyler Wruck will likely step in and replace Fairbanks. Wruck is averaging five points per game and two rebounds per game off the bench this season.

Freshmen Mason Walters (6-foot-7, 200 pounds) and David Berthene (6-foot-9, 185 pounds) will likely rotate and fill some of the minutes vacated by Johnson's and Baskow's suspension.

"Guys like David Berthene, Burke Lendl, Noah Shepherd and Mason Walters will see more time," Bowen said. "We'll see more of what we have over the next few days but we're also going to rely on the guys who have stuck around with us for the last few years. It's unfortunate what happened but we're going to move forward. I like the guys we have."

The Beavers (3-2 overall) open the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference season at BSU Gymnasium Friday against Minnesota State University, Moorhead and Saturday against Minnesota-Crookston.

Both game times are set for 8 p.m.