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Uthoff, Brust and words to live by

[ 3 ] April 17, 2012 |
Jarrod Uthoff (rivals.com).

Wisconsin basketball coach Bo Ryan hasn’t shared his reasons for limiting the transfer options of former Cedar Rapids Jefferson all-stater Jarrod Uthoff. Ryan’s  reasons might be sound. But he’s getting hammered nationally for digging in his heels. Ryan was even trending on Twitter Tuesday afternoon.

Keeping Uthoff, a forward who redshirted with the Badgers last season,  from transferring to another Big Ten rule is understandable. Now the Atlantic Coast Conference has reportedly been added to the no-fly list, along with Marquette and Iowa State.

Uthoff said “I just think their style of play best suits me” when he committed to Wisconsin in July of 2010. He picked the Badgers over three in-state schools – Iowa, Iowa State and Northern Iowa – as well as Illinois and Butler. Uthoff received 13 scholarship offers in all.

It’s interesting, however, how words and situations from two years ago are so dramatically different now.

When Todd Lickliter was fired after three seasons at Iowa in March of 2010, one of his recruits, guard Ben Brust, asked to be released from his scholarship. The Hawkeyes complied.  Lickliter’s successor, Fran McCaffery, made a visit to Brust and tried to re-recruit him.

The Big Ten rule at the time, since amended, didn’t  allow players to transfer from one Big Ten school to another and remain on scholarship. Brust  appealed to the Big Ten’s Academics and Eligibility Subcommittee to waive the rule, but was denied on April 22, 2010.

A week later, an 11-member committee made up of Big Ten faculty representatives voted in favor of an appeal by Wisconsin on Brust’s behalf. Brust later signed with the Badgers and went on scholarship immediately.

“I don’t think we had any chance from the beginning,” McCaffery said in December.

When the Badgers won that appeal for Brust, this is what Walter Dickey, chairman of Wisconsin’s athletic board who represented the school in the appeal, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

“The basic rationale behind the rule is to try to both support the national letter of intent and to prevent coaching or raiding (players). That is important to us within the conference.  And every rule can’t cover every possible situation. I think one way of looking at it is you’ve got to uphold the rules no matter what. And I think another view, which is mine, is that rigid and mechanical adherence to rules that don’t advance their purpose undermines the legitimacy of the rules. “

Dickey also said this, which rings different in light of the Uthoff case:

“The other thing that has to be foremost here is student welfare. It is a free country. Although the conference has an interest in putting sound limitations on it, we should never forget that the welfare of the young people is what this is about.”

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball

About Rick Brown: Rick Brown covers men's basketball for The Des Moines Register and Hawk Central. He's married and the father of two. He also covers golf for the Register. View author profile.

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