Single page view By Jason Whitlock
Special to Page 2

Nancy Zimpher, president of the University of Cincinnati, will be hailed in some circles and assailed in others for the bold stance she took with her basketball program.

She basically fired Bob Huggins for recruiting too many poor, academically and socially underprepared black kids. She called off the whole, tired charade.

I offer her praise. I respect her honesty.

She's uninterested in playing statistical games about who did and who didn't graduate. She's unimpressed with Huggins' charitable activities in and around Cincinnati. She apparently doesn't believe Huggins has a legitimate interest in helping the underclass.

With the Bearcats safely tucked in the money-generating Big East, Zimpher wants to fix the nasty perception that Cincinnati is a halfway house for lawless, difficult-to-educate black basketball players. Getting rid of Huggins is the first step in that process.

Yes, the saga continues. Another institution used poor blacks for its benefit, disrespected them in writing and then kicked them to the curb. Some will blast Zimpher and UC for its callousness. I won't. Again, I offer her praise. I respect her honesty. What must be questioned is the sanity of the black community that continues to allow its youth to be used by institutions that don't respect them.

I spent the better part of two hours perusing the letters that flew between Huggins' attorney and UC's legal counsel this summer. Zimpher's message was concise and clear.

"Mr. Huggins continues to recruit individuals that exhibit a disregard for the law and respectful behavior," one of the university's letters read. "I fully understand that off-the-court trouble and the poor choices made by student-athletes are not restricted to UC's basketball team. Indeed, such discipline and control issues are a national problem. Yet problems appear to be more prevalent in Mr. Huggins' basketball program."

The letter went on to state that in a 16-year span, 21 of Huggins' players had run afoul of the law in a significant way, including three players/recruits who were scheduled to play at UC this season.

"In short," the letter continued, "although Mr. Huggins may claim some specific successes, the University is seeking an environment and climate where the development of the whole student is sought and the successful education of all our students is realized. And while some may argue that academically challenged individuals who experience difficulty conforming their behavior to appropriate norms deserve a chance at success that a winning college basketball team can provide, UC believes that it can better advance its mission by building a winning program around scholar athletes who earn degrees that will allow them to succeed not only in athletics but more importantly in life generally."

Now we can play games and pretend like we don't know what Zimpher and Cincinnati are saying. But we know what she's saying. We know the type of players Huggins used to resurrect the UC basketball program and garner personal fortune and fame. He raided junior colleges for poor black players, snagged an occasional transfer and patched them around other players from the other side of the tracks.


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