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Matt Roth, a victim of Indiana’s scholarship numbers?

Aug 27, 2012, 10:45 AM EDT

Matt Roth

Indiana’s scholarship situation has worked itself out, and there will be plenty of people who will have their stomachs turn over as a result of how it played out.

Heading into this summer, Indiana had 15 scholarship players. One of them — Ron Patterson — struggled enough in summer school that he saw his faculty sponsorship get taken away. He was not admitted into the University and will spend next season at Brewster Academy in New Hampshire.

Unfortunately, however, that was the only scholarship that opened up. No one went pro. No one was kicked off the team. No one opted to become a walk-on.

Which, unfortunately, means that Matt Roth was left without a spot on the team. From The Hoosier Scoop:

Indiana started classes last week and without him in the picture, the Hoosiers have 13 players on scholarship, which is exactly the NCAA limit. Roth, who already has a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree, isn’t enrolled for the fall semester, and has accepted the fact that his college basketball career is over.

“School has started, and they’ve got their guys that are there on scholarship,” Roth said. “They’ve got the right number of guys. I’m not enrolled and I’m not on scholarship. I never told them I was ready to move on, but I gotta look out for my best interest now. There’s no sense in hoping. I don’t know if it’s even possible now.”

Roth said he and Crean spoke briefly at camp, but he didn’t want to pull Crean away from coaching the young players at the camp. Roth said even though Crean didn’t directly address his status, he did tell Roth to use him as a reference for any job applications. He said he appreciated that, but it also allowed him to read between the lines.

“You kind of put one and one together there,” Roth said.

That sucks, and I truly do feel bad for Roth here. He graduated school in four years, earning a master’s in the process, but found himself a victim of the numbers game when he still had eligibility remaining. It sucks when you find our you’re not good enough. I wouldn’t wish getting cut on anyone, especially a fifth-year senior.

But I think that, in this situation, the only thing that Tom Crean did wrong was that he strung Roth along. Look, Crean honored Roth’s commitment to Indiana. He gave him four years worth of scholarships, which was enough to get Roth two degrees without crippling student loans, a trip to the Sweet 16, and a chance to experience one of the most memorable moments in recent college basketball history. He participated in Senior Night last year.

But for as good of a shooter as Roth is, would a fifth-year for him really be beneficial for the program? Would it be worth pulling a scholarship from another kid on the roster that hasn’t had the opportunity to get his degree yet?

This is big-time college sports. This isn’t YMCA basketball. If you aren’t good enough, you’ll get cut. And unfortunately, Roth isn’t good enough.

(The painful irony here is that Roth enrolled at Indiana when no one wanted to go there. His career began when Indiana was an afterthought and ends with him being forced to waste his final year of eligibility while watching Indiana make a run at a national title from the stands.)

I just wish that Crean would have told him. I wish that Roth didn’t have to say, “You kind of put one and one together there”, or that he has to admit that he’s going to be scrambling to figure out something to do with himself this year. Because he would have had opportunities. He could have transferred elsewhere and been eligible immediately. I’m sure that there are plenty of schools that would love to add a kid that shot 54.5% from three in the Big Ten.

I know why Crean didn’t. If, say, Victor Oladipo decided he wanted to transfer closer to his home in the DC area, Crean wanted to have a body to take his place. And to be fair, I think that Roth may have heard “We got a real shot at getting you a scholarship this season” when Crean said something like “If anything happens, we’ll call on you to fill the spot.” Desiring an outcome breeds optimism, and I think it’s pretty easy to realize that Roth really wanted that fifth-year as a Hoosier.

I feel for Roth, and, to a point, for Crean as well. He put himself in a tough situation.

But in hindsight, I think the best option would have been for Crean to tell this kid to move on.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

  1. fruitcake27 - Aug 27, 2012 at 11:10 AM

    “But for as good of a shooter as Roth is, would a fifth-year for him really be beneficial for the program? Would it be worth pulling a scholarship from another kid on the roster that hasn’t had the opportunity to get his degree yet?”

    Or maybe there’s another option, which is that Crean should only accept new players when there are open scholarships.

    Also, it seems like you’ve glossed over a point in the piece that should perhaps get a little more exposition. It sounds like Crean was already going to be over the limit had Patterson been accepted to Indiana. Maybe I missed something, but it seems like Crean had 15 players for only 13 scholarships. One player he left out to dry and the other didn’t cut it academically (almost fortuitously for Crean, no?).

    What’s the difference between this and the loathsome practice of oversigning in football that the SEC recently banned?

  2. latchbeam - Aug 27, 2012 at 11:26 AM

    Even more proof Crean is a classless dbag!!

  3. fmlizard - Aug 27, 2012 at 11:57 AM

    This isn’t all that fair, but not that bad either. Roth got both a bachelor’s and master’s degree from his scholarship, for free…and kudos to him using his free years of education to the fullest.

    To me, Indiana has fulfilled its scholarship obligation to Roth. They didn’t pull a Nick Saban and pull his scholly out from under him during freshman camp or something.

    It also isn’t as if he is being cut from the team or denied an education…few people even need to pursue doctoral study, which is what he would need to do if on scholarship. What’s to say he even wants that, or wouldn’t have to pay for several years of further study to finish?

    Sounds like the three options would be to be on the team and pay for a minimum schedule of blow-off classes, leave the team entirely, or be cut. Not sure if Crean is cutting him entirely if he chooses the first option.

    • salmondude - Aug 27, 2012 at 2:56 PM

      Yes, after 4 yrs of college and also a masters, it’s time to move on. Roth’s obviously a smart guy. And undoubtedly knows he’s not NBA material. This year of eligibility was nothing but a year to delay the inevitable for him. Time to enter the real world. I’m sure he’s prepared for it. Kid’s a winner!

      • fruitcake27 - Aug 27, 2012 at 3:13 PM

        Time to move on according to you? Or according to him? It sure seemed like he was hoping and expecting to play another year at Indiana. Perhaps that was naive, but if Tom Crean wasn’t completely up front with Roth letting him know that he ALREADY HAD TOO MANY SCHOLARSHIP PLAYERS for 2012-13, then that’s a pretty despicable failure on his part. If Crean had told Roth after last season that he was going to have to give up his scholarship, then that’s not so bad. It certainly doesn’t appear he did so.

        And what about the fact that he had 15 kids hoping/expecting to play ball this year for only 13 spots? I still don’t see anyone addressing that issue.

        Oh, and it appears that Crean is going to oversign by a couple more players next year, too. I wonder which incoming recruit(s) will lose his/their faculty sponsor next time around.

  4. maynardstool - Aug 27, 2012 at 4:06 PM

    So the guy gets two degrees for free to play a game and he’s been wronged because he didn’t get to come back for a fifth year?

    He could of transferred and played anywhere he wanted. I just don’t understand why he wanted to come back and just sit the bench,

  5. seanb20124 - Aug 27, 2012 at 4:11 PM

    Thought big 10 was guaranteeing scholarships?

  6. maynardstool - Aug 27, 2012 at 6:42 PM

    Really just sounds like a bunch of whiny ass purdue fans. Nothing is owed to you after you get your four years.

    For all you people bashing Crean, what about Mo Creek? He’s basically known since halfway through his freshman season that he’d probably never contribute much for the rest of his career. Did he pull his scholly? No he didn’t. He honored the commitment just as he did with Roth.

    This is just a bunch of grandstanding by people that don’t want to see IU back. Too late

  7. florida727 - Aug 28, 2012 at 1:27 PM

    Couple thoughts… although I don’t agree with the practice, scholarships are renewable every year, so no one is “guaranteed” that their education will be paid for, for every year they spend in college. I get that. What I’d like to see though is that ALL scholarships ONLY cover a four year period. Saw in another article (football) where BYU has a SEVENTH-year senior starting at, I think, QB. Seriously? And my dad complained when I crammed a 4-year degree into five-and-a-half? Geez. Some people just don’t know how lucky they have it. I’m talkin’ to you, dad!

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