Gonzaga reinstated center Josh Heytvelt to the basketball team
on Friday, after eight months of weekly drug tests, 300 hours of
community service and a reversal of his coach's initial thoughts of
never having him back.
Heytvelt, a 6-foot-11 junior and the Bulldogs' leading returning
scorer with West Coast Conference MVP Derek Raivio having
graduated, had been suspended for possession of hallucinogenic
He was averaging more than 15 points per game and leading
Gonzaga in rebounding when he and teammate Theo Davis were arrested
Feb. 9 in Cheney, Wash. Police said they spotted a bag of
psilocybin mushrooms protruding from a bag in Heytvelt's vehicle
during a traffic stop.
"Initially, I didn't think I had a chance to come back," the
21-year-old Heytvelt said Friday during a news conference attended
by the entire team, Bulldogs coach Mark Few and athletic director
Mike Roth, with the school's chief judicial officer for student
"I'm blessed with the opportunity that the university and my
coaches gave me to prove myself.
"I did a lot of stuff in the community that showed me a lot of
ways people have to live life. And the way I was living my life was
not good," said Heytvelt, who added that it will take time to
regain the trust of his teammates.
Investigators said they also found a partial marijuana cigarette
in the pocket of Davis, a freshman who redshirted last season.
"I'm very embarrassed by what happened," Davis said.
"Fortunately, I'm at a place that gives second chances."
Gonzaga was 18-8 with Heytvelt last season and 6-3 without him,
winning the WCC tournament for the eighth time in nine seasons. But
the Zags lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament to Indiana
-- their first one-and-done appearance since 2002.
"They were basically ostracized for a while -- and they needed
to be," Few said of Heytvelt and Davis. "They paid a very, very
large price as student athletes."
While emphasizing that university leaders, not the wildly
popular basketball team, made the decision, Few said the effort the
two players made to better themselves swayed him.
"To be honest, I was initially against it," Few said of
reinstatement. "I think this is a real positive step for me, too.
"This reminded me what this university is all about, what the
Jesuit way is all about."
Few, who is entering his 19th season at Gonzaga and ninth as
head coach, said "I even sat down and prayed" over the situation
that became front-page, lead-story news for months in Gonzaga-mad
"It was a very embarrassing situation, but I think we learned a
lot about ourselves. ... I came full circle, too, and have seen how
these two have grown."
Friday's decision had become a foregone conclusion around the
program in recent weeks, because Heytvelt and Davis exceeded the
requirements of their court-supervised diversion programs which
stated the charges against them would be dismissed if they
performed specific actions.
Heytvelt did about 60 hours of community service beyond what was
required. It included time at the local food bank and at a Ronald McDonald House for terminally ill children, which he called humbling.
He also assisted with Habitat for Humanity building projects and
completed drug and alcohol education classes, said Melissa Lewis,
Heytvelt's case manager with Friendship Diversion Services in
"He's gone above and beyond," Lewis said last month.
"It's been a life lesson," Heytvelt said. "Everyone makes
mistakes. It's just how you deal with it that makes you a better