Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Butler slams UC, picks Ohio State

Bearcat officials defend team's graduation rate

By Bill Koch
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Jamar Butler, the all-state guard who reneged on his oral commitment to the University of Cincinnati basketball program last week, announced Monday he will attend Ohio State because he believes he has a better chance to get his degree at OSU.

Butler committed to UC during his sophomore year at Lima Shawnee High School and was expected to sign a letter-of-intent in November. But last week, he said he had second thoughts about UC.

"I committed when I was young," Butler said Monday. "I really didn't look at other schools. I wanted to take a look at other schools and it came out that Ohio State was a better fit for me. I felt like I had a better chance of getting my degree at Ohio State. It was like Cincinnati was all basketball. At Ohio State, it's academics and basketball."

UC coach Bob Huggins and UC athletic director Bob Goin both disputed that contention Monday.

"That's another shot at Huggins that I don't think is fair," Goin said. "The graduation rate now is pretty doggone good. I think for that kid to take a shot like that, that's character assassination that I don't think is fair.

"I think that's wrong. There's too much sensitivity given to that (at UC), too many resources given to that.

"We've got kids getting their degrees. ... If there's a reason (why he chose not to come to UC) that's fine. But don't use that reason. That's wrong."

According to Tom Hathaway, UC's assistant athletic director/media relations, six of 10 players who have completed their eligibility at UC in the last five years (60 percent) have earned their degrees.

Nineteen of 38 players who have completed their eligibility under Huggins have earned their degree.

"That's a copout," Huggins said of Butler's comments, "when Leonard Stokes graduates in three years, when Rod Flowers graduates in three years, when Taron Barker graduates a quarter early, when Derek Hollman gets a degree, when Field Williams could have graduated in three years but decided he's going to take (courses) his senior year. And Jamar knows that."


E-mail bkoch@enquirer.com

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