Stony Brook football is poised to take a step toward national prominence with the official announcement coming Wednesday that former Iowa running back Marcus Coker has enrolled as a transfer student.
SBU coach Chuck Priore confirmed Monday that Coker is joining the team.
Coker rushed for 1,384 yards and scored 15 touchdowns as a sophomore last season, trailing only Heisman Trophy finalist Montee Ball of Wisconsin in Big Ten rushing.
Coker was investigated, but not charged, in an alleged sexual assault Oct. 28 in Iowa City, police said.
"The investigation is closed because the victim didn't want to press charges," Sgt. Denise Brotherton of the Iowa City police department said Monday.
Priore said he and SBU administration officials investigated Coker's background before clearing him to begin classes Monday.
The police inquiry first was reported in the Iowa City Press-Citizen on Jan. 10, the same day Coker requested and was granted a release from his football scholarship.
Coker played in five games after the alleged incident but was suspended from the Insight Bowl, which the Hawkeyes lost to Oklahoma on Dec. 30, for an unspecified violation of team rules.
"There was an accusation made in Iowa City, but no criminal charges were brought against Marcus," said Coker's lawyer, Leon Spies. "He chose to withdraw from the University of Iowa. He has had a great deal of support here within the university community and from family and friends. Everyone is heartened to know he is going to pursue his college career."
Coker will not be available for comment until spring practice in March. But the 6-foot, 230-pound running back from Beltsville, Md., said in a statement: "I'm very grateful to coach Priore and Stony Brook University for this opportunity. I've become aware of Stony Brook's growing football program and outstanding academics. I'm excited for spring practice and the chance to help my teammates win a fourth straight Big South championship."
Hawkeyes coach Kirk Ferentz said in December that he anticipated Coker would return to the team, and an Iowa spokesman Monday confirmed Coker was not asked to leave school. Coker chose to make a fresh start at Stony Brook, where he is eligible to play immediately after switching from the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) to the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS).
"I did due diligence with the resources I had to really look at his character and his family background," Priore said. "After the research I did into the allegations, I was comfortable he would be somebody that would be a positive role model moving forward at Stony Brook University. He's a very good student in the classroom, a very reserved, quiet kid.
"When I met with him, most of the conversation for three hours was about, what do we offer academically? 'How many credits will transfer, and can I graduate on time?' He's exactly on schedule to graduate in eight semesters."
Coker was pursuing a double major in physics and astronomy at Iowa and is expected to follow a similar academic track at Stony Brook. He could leave early for the NFL draft, but Priore said Coker plans to stay two years to complete his degree.
The addition of Coker cushions the blow of losing running back Brock Jackolski, who accounted for more than 2,400 combined yards last season, to graduation. Coker joins running backs Miguel Maysonet, who rushed for 1,633 yards and 15 touchdowns, and JeVahn Cruz, who averaged 11.1 yards per carry in limited action.
"He'll help us continue to do what we do best -- attack defenses with the run game," Priore said.
The Seawolves' passing game also should benefit from the addition of another prominent transfer in former Maryland wide receiver Adrian Coxson. The 6-foot, 205-pound Baltimore native caught four passes for 90 yards and one touchdown as a redshirt freshman. He was a consensus four-star recruit out of high school and signed with Florida before transferring to Maryland.