Friday, August 20, 2004

Whaley leaves UC for Walsh


Center with 'Cats for one season

By Bill Koch
Enquirer staff writer

Robert Whaley
Robert Whaley
(Enquirer file photo)
Robert Whaley's stay as a member of the University of Cincinnati basketball program officially came to an end Thursday.

Walsh University, the same school where UC coach Bob Huggins began his career as a head coach, announced that Whaley will transfer there.

Whaley, a 6-foot-10 center, transferred to UC last year from Barton County (Kan.) Community College.

He played in 22 games for the Bearcats and started three. He averaged 5.8 points and 2.5 rebounds, scoring a season-high 17 points against Houston on Feb. 7.

Walsh coach Jeff Young declined to comment on Whaley when contacted Thursday but said in a statement that Huggins "was instrumental throughout the entire process of getting Rob to Walsh."

"Coach Huggins and Rob have a close relationship," Young said in the statement, "and after several discussions, they both concluded Walsh to be his best option."

Whaley, 22, from Benton Harbor, Mich., will have one year of eligibility remaining at the NAIA school in North Canton, Ohio.

The two-time junior-college All-American underwent arthroscopic knee surgery Dec. 3, then ran into problems with Huggins, who chided him for not returning to action more quickly after the surgery.

Whaley left the team Feb. 23, then asked to be reinstated and played in UC's two NCAA Tournament games.

He needed to pass one course to be academically eligible to play at UC this season, but UC athletic director Bob Goin said Whaley would not be welcomed back into the program because of his academic problems.

UC interim head coach Oscar Robertson backed that stance.

"I'm like this," Robertson said upon assuming the interim job. "You've got a guy who will not go to class, won't hustle hard. Get rid of him. I think time is too short. I think you should try to save everybody that you can, but some guys you cannot save."

When UC signed Whaley, he was heralded as the missing piece to the puzzle that would make the Bearcats Final Four contenders.

But Whaley never adjusted to Huggins' demanding style.

"I have decided to move in a different direction to better my career," Whaley said in a statement. "I would like to thank the coaching staff at Cincinnati, especially Coach Bob Huggins, for the support and guidance he has given me. He has given me a better outlook on life and is behind me 100 percent. I am looking forward to playing for Coach Young and bringing the Walsh basketball program to the top."

E-mail bkoch@enquirer.com




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