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UTEP athletics director sounds off about star basketball recruit Isaac Hamilton's decommitment
By: Bill Melugin
EL PASO, Texas --
As each day passes, the likelihood that UTEP star basketball recruit Isaac Hamilton will ever suit up in a Miners uniform diminishes, but athletics director Bob Stull tells KFOX14 the team will be fine with or without him.
"You'd like to have a McDonalds All-American on your team, but I can tell you the guys we brought in are excellent and well have a good team," Stull said.
As KFOX14 has reported, Hamilton committed to UTEP in November, but recently asked for a release from his National Letter of Intent so he could be closer to his sick grandmother in Southern California, though some say he just wants to play for USC.
UTEP denied his request, and Hamilton appealed to the National Letter of Intent Office, where he now awaits a decision.
"The whole initial reason for a letter of intent is to stop recruiting, so you don't have to worry about the rest of the summer," Stull said. "When people start letting them out of the letter of intent, for whatever reason, it just opens a whole new can of worms."
Stull feels the NCAA would be setting a bad precedent if Hamilton were to be let out of his commitment to UTEP.
"I think the coaches nationally are very concerned that if he wins this release, that the code has been broken, now you just say you have a sick relative and you've got to go home, so there's a lot of concern about the credibility of the National Letter of Intent," Stull said.
UTEP basketball fan Robert Romero agrees.
"If he made a commitment to come to UTEP, he should live up to that commitment, if he doesn't want to play here then he's got to live with the consequences, which would be sitting out for a year," Romero said. "If the NCAA does let him out, then they set a precedence for other players to commit to a school and then not live up to that commitment."
Romero told KFOX14 Miners fans were ecstatic to have him in the Sun City.
"I was looking forward to it, a McDonalds All-American, he was going to help us get to the NCAA tournament, and was hopefully going to bring other players here," Romero said. "We will still go to the games, but we were looking forward to having him here, that's a big-time player."
Stull said he isn't concerned about a drop in ticket sales or attendance if Hamilton doesn't play for UTEP.
"Our fans are good basketball fans. Nobody's going to come for one guy. We signed four new players. We have a tremendous team coming back," Stull said.
KFOX14 asked Stull if he buys Hamilton's excuse to leave for his sick grandmother or if he believes the star player just wants to play at another school.
"Well, it's not really for me to determine. I think his grandmother is ill. I think a lot of grandmothers are ill. it's just not really my determination, I just know that the National Letter of Intent is important for the credibility of the game," Stull said. "If in fact it's that serious, then the National Letter of Intent Office should give him that release."