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Latest Cincinnati charges indicate greater problem in sports system

By Daily Bruin Staff

April 10, 2002 9:00 p.m.

  Jeff Eisenberg Having roommate troubles?
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Stressed out about finding a roommate for next year? Don’t
be. No matter how nerve-racking the process is at UCLA, it cannot
be worse than at the University of Cincinnati, where entering the
roommate lottery is a lot like playing Russian roulette.

The school’s 18,000 undergraduates represent the empty
chambers of a gun, and former Bearcat men’s basketball star
Donald Little is the bullet.

Little was arrested last week on charges that he helped assault,
kidnap and torture his roommate 20-year-old Justin Hodge.

No joke.

Upset that he was unable to find $2,500 that he had lost earlier
in the week, Little allegedly called Hodge and asked him to return
to the apartment immediately. There, he hit his roommate over the
head with a whiskey bottle and taped him to a plastic lawn
chair.

How a collegiate athlete had $2,500 in cash lying around in his
apartment is another question, one that the NCAA may want to probe
after the scandal dies down.

What transpired next could be the script for the next episode of
“The Sopranos.” Hodge claims Little hit him in the face
with a weight bar and helped burn him with cigarettes and a heated
coat hanger before finally ordering friends in the apartment to
“make him bleed” and dump his body in the Columbus
River.

And you thought you had the roommate from hell.

While students at other campuses gawk at the sight of the
basketball team as they walk by, Cincinnati students may soon have
to run in fear.

During Bearcat head coach Bob Huggins’ tenure at the
school, many high-profile basketball players have had run-ins with
the law. 2002 Conference USA Player of the Year Steve Logan and
current Portland Trailblazer Ruben Patterson headline a dubious
list of at least seven former Bearcats who have been arrested since
1995.

While Little’s transgression may be the most serious of
the lot, remarkably it is not the most ridiculous. Former Bearcat
center Art Long was arrested for allegedly punching a police horse
four times in the neck during a 1995 incident near the Cincinnati
campus. Although charges were dropped, the stigma of the incident
has stuck with the basketball program.

It has reached the point that basketball players at the
university spend as much time in a courtroom as they do a
classroom.

Unfortunately, at Cincinnati, that may not be saying much.

Not a single one of Huggins’ four-year recruits has
graduated from the school during his tenure, a stat that is
overlooked by administrators because the team has been a fixture in
the Top 20 during that span.

With former Bearcats on the police wire seemingly every month
and a graduation rate that is a source of national embarrassment,
the basketball program at Cincinnati is a blemish on the
institution.

Until the athletic department chooses to clean up the program,
here is a tip for all Cincinnati undergrads who are unsure about
with whom they are going to room the following year: live by
yourself.

The extra thousand dollars may seem frivolous at first, but
consider it as additional health insurance. Undergrads at
Cincinnati should avoid rooming with a basketball player at all
costs. It could be a matter of life or death.

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