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Harty: Bo Ryan’s restrictions are a double standard

[ 9 ] April 18, 2012 |

You wonder how Bo Ryan would’ve felt if his players at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee had kept him from accepting the head coaching job at Wisconsin in 2001.

He probably would’ve thrown a fit just like he does so often at the officials when he doesn’t get his own way.

Unfortunately, big-time college athletics has allowed a double-standard to exist where coaches can come and go as they please, whereas student-athletes usually have to sit out one season if they transfer to another school. And that’s only if they get permission to transfer from their head coach.

Ryan only spent two seasons at Wisconsin-Milwaukee before moving to Wisconsin. That’s only one more season than Jarrod Uthoff spent as a Badger playing under Ryan.

It just doesn’t seem right that Ryan had no problem bolting from Wisconsin-Milwaukee for what he felt was a better opportunity, but he’s restricting Uthoff from transferring to at least 25 schools, including all the Big Ten schools. Ryan also has made all the Atlantic Coast Conference schools off limits to the 6-foot-8 Uthoff, along with Iowa State and Marquette.

You could understand Ryan putting the Big Ten schools on the restricted list, but this is also the same Bo Ryan who gladly accepted guard Ben Brust after Brust was released from his scholarship to Iowa in 2010.

Ryan could argue that the circumstances were different for Brust compared to Uthoff because Brust signed his letter of intent with Iowa when Todd Lickliter was coaching the Hawkeyes. Brust also never enrolled at Iowa before his loyalty shifted.

What’s not different is that both cases involve a teenager who’s trying to do what’s best for his future.

Ryan seems to resent that Uthoff, a former all-state forward at Cedar Rapids Jefferson, wants to bolt from his program after just one season.

Uthoff simply had a change of heart, caused by his dissatisfaction with playing in Ryan’s slow-it-down system. It doesn’t look good for Ryan when a player is willing to give up a year of eligibility to get out of his program.

Because Uthoff was redshirted this past season, he would lose a season of eligibility because of having to sit out next season under NCAA transfer rules.

That’s enough punishment for a kid who merely changed his mind about where he wants to play college basketball.

Uthoff has filed an appeal with the Wisconsin compliance office in which he specifically mentions Iowa, Indiana, Iowa State and Marquette as schools currently on the restricted list that he would like to consider.

Ryan needs to get over himself and realize that putting these restrictions on Uthoff looks perhaps even worse from a public relations standpoint than Uthoff wanting to transfer. Ryan comes off as being petty and vindictive and selfish, when before I just thought he was somebody who constantly complains to officials and treats the media like lint on his shirt.

Uthoff’s situation is yet another example of how big-time college basketball, and football to a certain extent, is all about the head coaches.

Listening to Dick Vitale broadcast a Duke-North Carolina game for ESPN always turns into an over-dramatized, sappy love fest for the two head coaches when really Vitale should focus on the student-athletes.

It’s enough that these coaches are multi-millionaires. They don’t need to be portrayed as superstars or heroes. They’re not, especially when they put their egos before a kid’s dream.

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball

About Pat Harty: Columnist Pat Harty has been covering the Iowa Hawkeyes for the Press-Citizen since 1991. Originally from Des Moines, he currently writes columns and covers Hawkeye men's basketball for Hawk Central. View author profile.

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