Far from an ideal situation sat on the desk of Mick Cronin, Whit Babcock and UC athletics last week. While none of the details are being released, we do know that Octavius Ellis was somehow involved in the incident at PLAY nightclub downtown. To be honest, for the purposes of this discussion, any other details are irrelevant.
Ellis was dismissed from the team Friday. Here's the official statement from the school:
University of Cincinnati men's basketball head coach Mick Cronin announced Friday action he is taking following a reported incident in a downtown Cincinnati nightclub during the past weekend.
Men's basketball student-athlete Octavius Ellis has been dismissed from the team. He will have access to academic support services through the end of the academic quarter. However, he is immediately separated from all team activities.
"Octavius didn't adhere to the standard of conduct I expect from members of our team," said Cronin. "I will work to help him find a fresh start at a new program because I do care very much for him as a person. I believe he can benefit from being in a new environment. That's likely what will help him the best to learn and mature from this."
The University has learned that no formal charges will be filed.
"I regret the mistakes I made this year and I know I need to mature as a person," Ellis said. "I want to thank my coaches and teammates for the opportunity I had at UC."
UC director of athletics Whit Babcock supported Cronin's decision and said, "I believe Coach Cronin has our program headed in the right direction. I appreciate his leadership of our young men athletically, academically, and socially."
A freshman forward from Memphis, Tenn., Ellis played in three games during the 2011-12 season, averaging 2.3 points and 1.7 rebounds in 8.3 minutes.--- The statement speaks for itself as does the punishment, there's only a few points I'd like to make regarding the move.
Let's not pretend that Ellis is an expendable scapegoat of the situation. Despite redshirting and being seen as a project upon signing with UC, Ellis had a bright future and was a legit option manning the interior. Remarkably, since arriving at UC Ellis was still growing. He'd already added a few inches and was approaching the 7-foot arena. If you don't think UC could use a 6-10/11/7-foot athlete in the middle the next three years, you are crazy.
Ellis came with potential and showed progress. The backstory of his life and what he has had to overcome/deal with is beyond my capacity to understand. Sure, he posted non-factor numbers during his limited time last year, but nobody wanted to see him go on the court.
None of that mattered, though. The moment Ellis involved himself in the PLAY incident he forced Cronin's hand. The coach had no choice.
What we learned this year about Cronin -- if we didn't already -- was that he is a man of principles and will stand by them regardless of what it means for his basketball team. With the way he handled the Crosstown Brawl and its aftermath served as the most visible representation of what has been a career of placing conduct at the top of his priority list.
Ellis and everyone else connected to the brawl knew there was as zero tolerance policy going forward. That day they waived their right at the benefit of the doubt. They knew what Cronin's reaction would be should another incident occur. Everyone who watched his most famous press conference as a head coach knew that.
Following that press conference the national media narrative lived along the lines of "will Cronin back up his words." After UC issued stronger punishments than even recommended and the dismissal of Ellis, he illustrated he stands by every word uttered that day.
He left no doubt.
And he didn't do so with disdain or recklessness. Both sides mutually agreed to part and Ellis will be given help with the academic side of his transfer. The fact Ellis was quoted and represented in the statement tells you all that needs to be said about the situation.
As coaches and programs cut corners, break rules and sweep problems under the rug across college athletics, the transparent standard Cronin and UC athletics abide by needs to be recognized. From Day 1 he's preached patience as the program rebuilds because he wanted to do it the right way. He wanted to create a sustainable model the fans and school could view with pride.
The events of the past year and week prove that model holds up under the most intense spotlight. They prove developing student-athletes trumps wins.
They prove Cronin is a man of word, no matter the cost. For that, the Bearcats fan base should be proud.
--- Big East meetings this week in Florida. Whit Babcock headed down there with Cronin, Butch Jones, Jamelle Elliot and Robin Martin. Andrea Adelson gives the spring meetings primer here. Obviously, conference stability and the league's future will head the list again.
Every school will arrive with a weight off their shoulders though, with the news ESPN reported stating Boise State reaffirmed its commitment to the conference.
--- Joey Johnston at the Tampa Tribune gave a state of the conference as the spring meetings begin.
--- Another development that may come out of this week? Big East-SEC Challenge matchups. The matchups were released this week last year. I'm officially exhausted from discussing this topic for the last month. UC will host....somebody. Wait and see.
--- Tough season for UC baseball came to an end this weekend with Saturday's loss to Georgetown, 15-4. The Bearcats finished 18-38, 7-20. Rebuilding/transition years are difficult. The strong contingent of young talent should bode this team well into the future.
--- Josh Harrison kept the MLBearcats in the news on Friday when he broke up Justin Verlander's no-hit bid in the 9th inning.
--- Love that Jon Kitna is now a high school math teacher. If I had kids, I would gladly put them under his watch. One of the ultimate NFL good dudes.
--- Kyrie Irving dressed up as an old man and schooled some unsuspecting ballers on a New Jersey pick-up court. Don't reach, youngblood!
--- Shocking that Mark Zuckerberg was able to find a woman willing to marry into half of his millions.
--- SNL cracks on Screamin A. Smith. Great stuff.
--- Speaking of SNL, Mick Jagger and Arcade Fire killed it in this performance.