The Dagger: College Basketball Blog

Matt Roth defends Tom Crean’s decision not to renew his scholarship

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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Matt Roth (AP)

Indiana coach Tom Crean received plenty of criticism Monday over his decision to yank reserve guard Matt Roth's scholarship even though the fifth-year senior still had one year of basketball eligibility remaining.

Rival fans cited it as an example of poor ethics. Reporters questioned if it was fair. Even diehard Indiana supporters were a bit squeamish about it.

Really the only person who apparently didn't understand what all the fuss was about was the player Crean supposedly had slighted.

In an interview with Peegs.com on Monday night, Roth insisted he had no problem with losing his spot on the team so Crean could make room for every member of Indiana's decorated freshman class under the 13 scholarship limit. Furthermore, Roth said Crean had been honest and upfront with him about the unlikelihood of a scholarship being available, refuting stories that suggested the backup guard had been strung along or kept in the dark.

"Coach Crean and the whole coaching staff did a great job of keeping me in the loop, helping me as a person, not just as an athlete," Roth told Peegs.com.

"Obviously, the scholarship situation didn't work out in my favor. Prior to the end of the school year and our meetings, they were very positive. They wanted me to keep building my game and train, even if it was on my own. At the same time, they wanted to help me in any way possible, whether that was play somewhere else or play overseas in a certain league here or there. They did make those options available and offered a lot of support."

The support from Roth will likely ease some of the backlash Crean has faced regarding this situation. Yes, Crean signed more recruits than he had scholarships available and removed a veteran player from the team who wanted to be there, but this isn't quite as egregious as running off a freshman or sophomore.

Roth already earned a bachelor's degree and a master's degree from Indiana. He could have transferred to any school he wanted without sitting out a year. He even had the chance to participate in senior day festivities at Indiana last year, a sure sign that Crean already had made him aware the 2011-12 season was likely to be his last unless unforeseen transfers freed up a scholarship unexpectedly.

The fact that Crean was open and honest behind the scenes with Roth and that Roth has no hard feelings about losing his spot makes the situation far more palatable.

Major college basketball is big business, and it's not uncommon for players to get pushed aside the door to make room for younger talent. It's not ideal, but it's a lot easier to stomach when it happens to a kid who could transfer anywhere without penalty if he wants and who has two degrees to fall back on if he doesn't.

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