Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Bearcats' Hicks is suspended

He's charged with assault, leaving AD Goin fuming

By Bill Koch
The Cincinnati Enquirer

It's too early to determine if forward Eric Hicks has a future with the University of Cincinnati basketball program, but one thing is clear in the wake of his suspension Monday:

UC athletic director Bob Goin's patience is wearing thin when it comes to men's basketball players getting into trouble.

"I'm sick of it," Goin said Monday night, "and I'm disappointed. (UC coach) Bobby (Huggins) keeps giving these guys chances. He invests in them. I don't know the facts. I have not seen one written thing. I'm going by what I've heard. My knee-jerk reaction is what he did. (Hicks) is not welcome in Fifth Third Arena until we get all the facts."

Hicks, 19, has been charged with aggravated assault for allegedly throwing a bottle "in a sudden fit of rage" that hit a woman in the forehead, causing a laceration that required stitches. The incident occurred Saturday at 1 W. Corry St. near the UC campus. The charge is a fourth-degree felony, which, under UC's athletic department policy, makes him ineligible to participate in athletics until the issue is resolved.

If he is convicted, he will be permanently dismissed from the athletic department.

Upon receiving the news, Goin suspended Hicks indefinitely from the basketball program for conduct detrimental to the team.

He will not be allowed to participate in any basketball-related activities, but will remain on scholarship.

Huggins could not be reached for comment.

"I have to be careful," Goin said, "because I'm not the judge. I haven't heard (Hicks') side, but he apparently was in the wrong place at the wrong time and did the wrong thing."

Two weeks ago, UC recruit Robert Whaley, a junior college center from Barton County (Kansas) College, was charged with two felony counts of aggravated battery in connection with a February incident in Barton County.

He was scheduled to be arraigned Monday in Barton County District Court. A spokesman for the clerk's office said she had no record of Whaley's plea.

Assistant county attorney Douglas Matthews could not be reached.

"I guess I'm disappointed any time a kid steps out of line in society and does something like that," Goin said of the Hicks incident. "I want to be careful because we have a lot of athletes here. We have our flaws. We're not perfect. A lot of times they mirror society. It's not exclusive to us.

"I think we give enough guidance and tutoring that they've got to do what's right. I'm disappointed when we fall short. If they put themselves in jeopardy, they have to pay the consequences."

Hicks' brother, Derrick, said the suspension was the result of "a little incident that occurred over the weekend."

"It's nothing big," he said. "I'll let you know that. It was a little altercation in a nightclub. I'm upset that the situation occurred, but there are rules and regulations for everything. It's juse one of those obstacles he faces right now."

Eric Hicks, a 6-6 sophomore from Greensboro, N.C., averaged 2.5 points and 3.6 rebounds last season as a freshman playing mostly in the low post and in a reserve role. He started two games and averaged 13 minutes per game.

Derrick said his brother is looking forward to moving back to his natural position next season.

"He'll be on the wing next year," Derrick said. "He's just going to work hard and he's looking forward to this coming season. He'll be like Leonard Stokes, shooting the ball a lot more."

Hicks, who averaged 30.7 points and 12.3 rebounds his senior year at Dudley High School in Greensboro, was unhappy with his playing time early last season and was two days late returning from Christmas vacation, but worked his way into Huggins' substition pattern as the season progressed.

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