UNI's Jacobson talks Eglseder suspension

February, 17, 2010
02/17/10
4:52
PM ET
Northern Iowa coach Ben Jacobson was getting hit from all sides with questions on how the Panthers dealt with Jordan Eglseder.

Was a three-game suspension for a DUI arrest too lenient? Was it too much? Should he be gone much longer?

How does it compare with how Kansas handled Brady Morningstar's DUI in the fall, suspending him for the fall semester? The problem in comparing the Morningstar situation with Eglseder's is the timing. Morningstar's DUI came after he was part of a fracas with the football team and followed a stern warning from Kansas coach Bill Self that any further embarrassment would mean serious consequences. Morningstar committed the major offense shortly thereafter.

"All these situations are different," Jacobson said. "Jordan had a 3½-year record to this point. He had shown a great commitment to being a better student and was much more of a confident young man. He had shown tremendous growth in all those areas."

Jacobson said the suspension of Eglseder, which began with Tuesday night's win over Creighton and continues with Friday's BracketBuster game against Old Dominion and next Tuesday's game at Evansville, was completely handled by the student code of conduct.

"It's supposed to be 10 percent of the total number of games," Jacobson said. "Three games is 10 percent of our 30. Some people were saying how could you do it at this point in the season? While others were wondering why we didn't sit him for just one or two games and others said we should sit him for the rest of the year. People are going to have their own opinion on what the consequences are to fit what Jordan did."

Jacobson said he supported the length of the suspension.

"At no point did I say what occurred was acceptable behavior within our program," Jacobson said. "If we get beat as a result of him being out then it will be magnified, but that's something we will have to deal with as a program."

The Panthers clinched the Missouri Valley Conference title with the win over the Bluejays, moving to 14-2 on the season, 23-3 overall.

Eglseder, a 7-footer with plenty of presence in the middle, has averaged 12.2 points and 7.6 rebounds so far this season. He is a must for the Panthers to survive in the MVC tournament or, for that matter, advance in the NCAA tournament, assuming they can get an at-large bid.

The Panthers might not be a lock if they don't win in St. Louis. UNI has one win against a team that will probably be in the NCAA tournament: Siena. The Panthers hammered the Saints 82-65 on Dec. 12. Losing to DePaul in the quarterfinals of the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands was a crusher because it prevented the Panthers from playing Tennessee in the semifinals.

"If we had played Tennessee then that would have put a different spin on our nonconference portion of our schedule," Jacobson said. "It took a long time for us to get back [recognition]. We had to win 15 games in a row to get back in the discussion. We had to beat Siena, Iowa, Iowa State. We won on the road."

Jacobson knows he will be criticized for the length of Eglseder's suspension. But the decision is over. There is a school policy and it was followed.

Now if the Panthers can still make the tournament and Eglseder can be a model citizen from this point forward, this will be a minor blip during their season. Eglseder made a mistake, one that could have been even more costly to himself, to others and to the program. How the Panthers handled it so far seems to be fair and just.

• I'm still stunned by the charges coming out against former Oklahoma State coach Sean Sutton. I saw him this past Monday night at the Kansas-Texas game in Austin. He did look extremely well-rested and comfortable in spending time with his father, Eddie Sutton. To see his mug shot -- the worn face, the messy hair -- and to hear the four felony drug-related charges is hard to comprehend. According to a wire story, Sutton is now in a treatment center. It's amazing to see someone look good, seem fine, and then see how much they may have been covering up for a life gone awry. It's a sad, sad story.

• Fordham announced Wednesday it will elevate its budget for the basketball program. What does this mean? Well, I spoke with longtime Fordham athletic director Frank McLaughlin on Wednesday and the hope is that the Rams will now be taken seriously in the Atlantic 10.

If the budget does go up to where the Rams are more of a serious player in terms of coaching salaries, recruiting budget and travel, then they might be able to recruit a higher-profile name in their head-coaching search.

The Rams are also exploring the option of playing four or five games at the Izod Center at the Meadowlands in the coming seasons. Fordham does have the advantage of being in the A-10 and the N.Y. metropolitan area, but its national profile right now is nonexistent. The Rams need to do something to differentiate themselves and luring the right coach for this position would certainly help.

I've always believed Fordham could be a Butler-like team in the MAAC. In the A-10, the Rams aren't going to be the lead dog in the title chase -- ever. But if the Rams ever are in the top six, they will certainly get significant traction.

The debate will always be what is better -- to be one of six or seven quality teams in the A-10 (still a reach) or to be a yearly favorite in a respected mid-major league like the MAAC with Siena and others? For now the Rams have decided they want to be a player in the A-10 and energize the legions of alumni in the area.

Andy Katz | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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