- Eamonn Brennan, ESPN Staff Writer
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Not that he really seemed that way in the first place, Matt Roth's original comments about his scholarship status at Indiana -- as told to the Bloomington Herald-Times's Dustin Dopirak -- didn't seem accusatory or angry. Instead, he seemed slightly confused, but he also ultimately understood the reality of the situation, and given the Hoosiers' 13 scholarship players and Roth's participation in senior day this spring, it was hardly a surprise to learn he wouldn't be in the Hoosiers' lineup anyway.
Still, the situation spoke to the perils of oversigning -- even without Roth, IU was still over the scholarship limit until the academics-based departure of recruit Ron Patterson -- and with the Hoosiers suddenly on the cusp of a national title run, it was hard to come away thinking the guy got anything but a bum deal. Plus, Roth's account of his interaction at coach Tom Crean's basketball camp over the weekend, wherein the two didn't discuss the situation but Crean offered his services as a reference (“You kind of put one and one together there,” he said), gave the impression that Roth himself was largely left in the dark.
The would-be fifth-year senior was very eager to dispel that notion Monday. In an interview with Indiana fan site Peegs.com, Roth told reporter Jeff Rabjohns that he and Crean "have a great relationship and that the two were in regular contact throughout the summer," and that he was more aware of his status situation than he let on. He said the coaching staff "did a great job of keeping me in the loop, helping me as a person, not just as an athlete," and that the scholarship situation "didn't work out in my favor."
Roth repeated that at no time did he feel he wasn't in communication with Crean and the basketball staff about his situation. He said answers he gave to questions about whether he spoke with Crean at one specific point in time were misconstrued as a comment on the overall situation in some recent articles.
"There were conversations," Roth said. "They did a great job. They tried in every way to make it possible for me to return. I knew it would take a lot of things that nobody could control. I can't say enough about the way they helped me in job pursuits. I know behind the scenes, they've done a lot of great things to help me in the interview process. They've really been there and helped me as I've tried to find a job, and they've helped me try to find a job in the location where my fiance and I want to be as we start our lives."
Roth holds no ill will, and in fact is quite eager to make sure everyone knows he holds no ill will, particularly in the wake of the bad press Indiana received Monday. He also apparently understands that this sort of thing comes with elite program territory:
"[After the season], I had several talks with the coaches," Roth said. "I was very aware there were several things that would have to happen for a scholarship to open up with the recruiting success IU is having and the return of IU basketball to where it should be. I was well aware of all that. They did everything in their power. There were a lot of things they could not control. I was well aware of that."
Which brings us back to the original point. Whatever Roth's feelings on the situation -- and they matter more than anyone else's -- the sheer fact is that a few weeks ago Indiana had at least one more player than scholarships for the 2012-13 season, and two if you included Roth. The Hoosiers were lucky to have a guy as reasonable and supportive as Roth be one of those players, and arguably just as lucky to have Patterson's academics keep him from enrolling as a freshman this fall. Things worked out. Roth is moving on. Life is peachy in Bloomington, Ind.
Even so, these are the kinds of situations that arise when your program is on a meteoric rise, when you have more interested players than available scholarships. And such situations are almost never flattering.
Not that he really seemed that way in the first place, Matt Roth's original comments about his scholarship status at Indiana -- as told to the Bloomington Herald-Times's Dustin Dopirak -- didn't seem accusatory or angry.