Thursday, April 04, 2002

Little kicked off Bearcats

Huggins: Arrest violates reinstatement contract

By Neil Schmidt
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Last week before Bob Huggins left for the Final Four, he met with Donald Little and talked about “doing the right thing” this offseason. Their next meeting came Wednesday, when Huggins summoned Little and permanently dismissed him from the Cincinnati basketball program.

        A day after Little was arraigned on charges of felonious assault and kidnapping, Huggins decided Little had violated the behavioral probation of the reinstatement contract to which he agreed when returning to the program in September.

        In an interview earlier Wednesday with WAJR-AM of Morgantown, W.Va., then speaking of Little's dismissal as likely, Huggins expressed disappointment in his junior center.

        “We really expect our guys to do the right thing,” Huggins said. “You don't do the right thing, then there's consequences. We tell our guys every day, "If you're man enough to commit a particular act, then be man enough to live with the consequences.'”

        The 6-foot-11 Little, on schedule to complete his undergraduate degree this spring in social sciences, was not in class Wednesday. UC officials, who said they won't allow Little an appeal of this dismissal, have offered him the opportunity to remain on athletic grant-in-aid through the remainder of the academic term.

  Previous run-ins with the law:
  • September, 2001: Pleaded guilty to reduced charge of persistent disorderly conduct for assaulting a female tavern manager.
  • July, 2001: Pleaded guilty to reduced charges of reckless driving, an open-container violation and having no driver's license in his possessiont. A marijuana possession charge and a speeding allegation were dropped.
  • More: Citations in Ohio dating to February 1999 for driving without a license, disorderly conduct, open-container violations and weaving while driving a vehicle.
  • 2001-02 stats: Averaged team-best 6.9 rebounds and 1.7 blocks. Also averaged 7.1 points, shooting 50.6 percent from the field.
  • Notables: Ranks second in UC history with 153 career blocked shots, trailing only Kenyon Martin (292).
        Though this is Little's third arrest in 11 months, it surprised senior teammate Steve Logan, who said Little had behaved since his reinstatement last fall.

        “I was shocked about that, about the whole situation," Logan said. “... I talked to him (Tuesday). I told him to keep his head up (and that) everything will work out for him.”

        Said junior guard Leonard Stokes of Little: “He's a good dude. He just gets in trouble sometimes.”

        Little, 23, was charged with helping torture and assault his roommate, Justin Hodge. Authorities said Little taped Hodge to a plastic lawn chair, hit him in the face with a weight bar, helped burn him with cigarettes and a heated coat hanger and stabbed him in the leg.

        Little's case has gone to the grand jury, from which a decision is due back April 11.

        When word of Little's Monday night arrest reached UC on Tuesday, the school's initial punishment was to disallow him from participating from offseason, basketball-related activities. “Our evaluation of Donald's future ... will occur after the legal process has run its course,” athletic director Bob Goin said Tuesday.

        As for why UC changed the punishment a day later, UC sports information director Tom Hathaway said, “Between yesterday and today, we had a chance to review the particulars of Donald's reinstatement agreement.”

        Goin didn't return a message left Wednesday evening seeking comment. Huggins didn't respond to an interview request made through school officials.

        In the radio interview, Huggins detailed his conversation last week with Little:

        “I said: "Make sure you're doing the right thing. Make sure you're in here; you need to gain 20 pounds. You need to make sure that you continue to do what you're doing academically so you can graduate. You'll be able to start taking grad classes this summer. You'll be well on your way to a master's degree and hopefully a professional basketball career, either here or abroad, if you continue to do the right things.'

        “He looked at me and said, "I know, Huggs, I am.' And then to go to the Final Four and come back and have this happen, naturally I'm disappointed in him.”

        Little was dismissed from the Bearcats for four months last summer after two May run-ins with the law, the first an alcohol-related reckless-driving charge and the latter an assault charge in a nightclub. He has citations in Ohio dating to February 1999 for driving without a license, disorderly conduct, open-container violations and weaving while driving a vehicle.

        Stokes said Little's troubles have resulted from “hanging out with the wrong crowd.”

        “He just picked a couple of friends that were bad for him,” Stokes said.

        Little led UC in rebounds (6.9 avg.) and blocks (60) this season, also averaging 7.1 points. His total of 153 career blocks ranks second in school history.

        The loss of Little will diminish UC's expected inside strength next season.

        The top post player will be 6-7 Jason Maxiell, who plays bigger than his height. UC will get back 6-10 Derek Hollman after he missed this season because of a shoulder surgery. It's now more critical than ever that 6-11 B.J. Grove loses weight and gets in shape this offseason.

        Other possible fits inside are 6-8 Rod Flowers and 6-6 incoming freshman Eric Hicks.

        Logan, asked about the negative publicity for UC in a week in which alum Kenyon Martin of the New Jersey Nets defended himself as not being a “thug,” sighed.

        “Summers are tough for us,” said Logan, who himself had a DUI charge in August 2000. “It's been like that for the last six years. I don't know; I guess Bearcats find trouble when the (offseason) comes around. We've just got to be more responsible.

        “Huggs has been having bad breaks all since he's been here. I guess that's part of coaching.”

Previous stories
Grove, Little may be charged in bar fight May 5, 2001
UC boots Little May 20, 2001
Little charged in bar incident May 22, 2001
Little arraigned on assault charge May 23, 2001
Little's UC days may not be over July 25, 2001
Little pleads guilty in bar incident Sept. 6, 2001
UC reinstates Little Sept. 22, 2001
UC's Little accused of torturing roommate April 3, 2002

Bearcats Stories
- Little kicked off Bearcats
Huggins: West Virginia not set to win
UC's Logan focused on draft
Martin, Nets beat Shaq-less Lakers

Cubs 10, Reds 3
Boone turns off clubhouse music
Notebook: Reds sign Kevin Jordan
Reds box, runs
Wood's debut gives Cubs hope
Bonds hits two more homers
Reese swings big bat for Bucs
County gives away ballpark bricks
Reds make pitch for responsible drinking
Texans says they'll take Carr No. 1
Cleveland 1, Mighty Ducks 0
Dayton 4, Cyclones 1
Coming up this week
Cincinnati high school highlights
Cincinnati high school results
Ohio cities match basketball stars
N.Ky. high school results

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• Nippert Stadium
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