By TOM LEA
MADISON – What had become one of the most muddled and heavily criticized decisions during Bo Ryan’s tenure at Wisconsin was somewhat clarified Thursday afternoon with a UW athletic communications press release.
According to the release, the UW athletic department — namely head coach Bo Ryan, assistant athletic director Justin Doherty and athletic director Barry Alvarez — has decided to rescind most of the restrictions it had placed on Uthoff’s potential transfer destinations.
The release clarified the number of schools (16) that Uthoff, a 6-foot-8 freshman from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, requested ‘permission to contact.’ Various reports indicated Uthoff had requested to contact 25 schools.
“He has requested ‘permission to contact’ 16 schools,” the press release said. “Four of which were denied.”
The release said Uthoff appealed three of the four schools that were denied.
Ryan had become the brunt of much national criticism in recent days, most of which reached a peak following a 15-minute interview with ESPN’s ‘Mike and Mike’ Thursday morning. During that interview, the veteran coach said he was strapped for options simply because he wasn’t sure how to handle a transfer situation since it had only happened one prior time during his career in Madison.
Ryan told ‘Mike and Mike’ that he reached out to a number of coaches for advice, most of which told him to block the conference (in this case the Big Ten) and any schools from states contiguous or within the same area as Wisconsin.
That’s why Iowa State, a school outside of the Big Ten but in a bordering state and Marquette, UW’s top in-state rival, were on the list. The ACC schools made the cut because UW plays at least one ACC school once a year as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Ryan also restricted Florida because UW just recently signed a ‘home and home’ series with the Gators.
He remained adamant that he was just following a procedure, one that was well within the legality of NCAA rules, and that he was confused by the fact his program was under such intense scrutiny when his restrictions didn’t represent the first time such an act had occurred.
“You have to tell the administrator why you want to go to a particular school in the ACC,” Ryan told ‘Mike and Mike.’ If Florida was on the list, ‘Okay, you have to come in and tell the administrator why you want to go to that (school).
“We simply say this is what you have to appeal because we know that’s your right. So then you go talk to the administrator.”
Uthoff spent most of Thursday morning chatting with Doherty and Alvarez about the school’s where he would most like to continue his collegiate basketball career. Once those meeting adjourned Doherty, Alvarez and Ryan decided to lift any restrictions on a school that wasn’t a part of the Big Ten conference, including Iowa State, Marquette and Florida.
“Ryan is supportive of denials of Big Ten institutions only,” the press release said. “And has wanted the appeals process to serve as a means for dialogue to occur between Uthoff and UW Athletics administration.”
The release also stated that Uthoff has been notified of the decision. Should he opt to appeal the restrictions preventing him from enrolling and accepting athletic aid at a Big Ten institution he would need to request a hearing with the chair of UW’s athletic board within eight business days
“Everybody remembers the accusations,” Ryan told ‘Mike and Mike.’ But very few people in life remember the outcome. So what we’ve done is we’ve given the young man a chance to go appeal the schools that he really wants to go to.
“That’s all we can do.”