Terry Hutchens of the Indy Star generated lots of buzz with his well-timed story on Matt Roth that suggested Roth deserved a scholarship for his final year of eligibility. He had earned the right with on-court and off-court performance.
The problem is IU already has 14 players and 13 scholarships. Having Roth return for a fifth season (he’s already gone through Senior Night once) would put the Hoosiers two players over the limit.
He can either move on with his career (he already has bachelor and master’s degrees, and he’s done it in an impressive four years), play at another school for the final season (he doesn’t want to do that) or walk on at Indiana while paying out of state tuition, which would be $25,000 to $30,000.
Yeah, nobody said higher education was cheap.
Roth wants to return to IU. Coach Tom Crean, in an ideal world, would love to have him. But the scholarship issue remains.
Does Roth deserve a scholarship? No doubt. Should he be given one over somebody else? You can make arguments both ways.
So how does Crean settle this? Assuming nobody transfers or becomes academically ineligible, you resort to Darwin’s survival of the fittest. You project who is likely to play the least. With Roth, that means you need to tell two players they have to walk on. Without Roth you just tell one player.
If that means two incoming freshmen, prep school for a year becomes an option.
If Roth is one of those guys, then he has to walk on or move on.
Yes, it’s tough, but it’s the consequence of over-signing. By the end of the summer, if not sooner, it will all be resolved.
So now we know why Kentucky coach John Calipari didn’t want a home-and-home series with IU. He listed the reasons on his website.
Basically, he blamed the one-and-done format of college sports. Because he, better than anyone else, lands super-talented players who stay in school for just a year before moving on to the NBA, he says his approach has to be different.
He says the Wildcats are not a traditional program. He says that “25-year model” has been “blown up.”
He says his three main criteria are preparing his players for the postseason, Kentucky fans and money.
Playing at larger neutral sites generates more money. There’s no doubt about that. He’s less clear about why playing at a neutral site is better for UK fans than playing at home, although he suggests larger arenas would mean more people could see them play. In other words, you might have 20,000 UK fans attend the IU game at Lucas Oil Stadium rather than 100 attend the game played at Assembly Hall.
Finally, he says it’s better for the players. Putting a forever young team (because so many players leave every year for the NBA) at places like Assembly Hall is unfair.
He says NCAA tourney games are played at neutral sites, so UK should play in as many of those as possible. Get them used to playing in big arenas and football stadiums.
Is that legit?
No. You can strongly argue that playing – and losing – at Assembly Hall steeled Kentucky for NCAA tourney pressures. It prepared the Wildcats as nothing else could.
Bottom line, IU and Kentucky should continue playing every year. Stop the posturing and get it done.