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Though Matt Roth was at Assembly Hall on Saturday for Tom Crean’s basketball camp, the two did not discuss the possibility of Roth returning for a fifth season. At this point, though, Roth doesn’t need such a conversation to process the obvious.
Indiana started classes last week and without him in the picture, the Hoosiers have 13 players on scholarship, which is exactly the NCAA limit. Roth, who already has a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree, isn’t enrolled for the fall semester, and has accepted the fact that his college basketball career is over.
“School has started, and they’ve got their guys that are there on scholarship,” Roth said. “They’ve got the right number of guys. I’m not enrolled and I’m not on scholarship. I never told them I was ready to move on, but I gotta look out for my best interest now. There’s no sense in hoping. I don’t know if it’s even possible now.”
Roth said he and Crean spoke briefly at camp, but he didn’t want to pull Crean away from coaching the young players at the camp. Roth said even though Crean didn’t directly address his status, he did tell Roth to use him as a reference for any job applications. He said he appreciated that, but it also allowed him to read between the lines.
“You kind of put one and one together there,” Roth said.
Roth had a fifth year of eligibility because he broke his foot two games in to his sophomore season and didn’t return the rest of the year. That made him eligible for a medical redshirt. It was widely presumed that he would not get the opportunity for a fifth year because Indiana was oversigned by one for the 2012-13 season even without him in the fold. He took part in Senior Day festivities at Indiana’s last home game, but after a brilliant senior season off the bench in which he shot a Big Ten best 54.5 percent from beyond the 3-point arc and helped the Hoosiers to the Sweet 16, Crean told him to keep his options heading into his fifth year. By NCAA rule, Roth would have been given the opportunity to transfer to another Division I school without penalty for his fifth year because he had already graduated. However, Roth opted not to do that and hoped that a scholarship would open up for him to return to Indiana.
Incoming freshman guard Ron Patterson lost his faculty sponsorship because of a difficult summer session academically and was not admitted, but no other scholarship opened up, which left Roth on the outside looking in. His next move, he said, is to try to find a job. That will be difficult because he wants to work in athletic administration and there are few jobs to be found with the school year and college football season beginning.
“It’s going to be tough to find something,” he said. “But I’m being optimistic. I might have to take a job that isn’t in my field and make it work for a couple of years, or maybe I find something that I’ve never thought about that hits home as something I’d want to do.”
Despite the bind it could put him in, Roth said he didn’t regret waiting out the summer to see if he could return.
“I knew I wasn’t ready to be completely done,” he said. “But at the end of the day, I gave it everything I had for four years here. And at the end of the day, that’s what people are going to remember.”
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