IOWA CITY — Cedar Rapids Jefferson graduate Jarrod Uthoff will have a chance to earn a basketball scholarship for any program outside the Big Ten.
The question is, does he want to play in the Big Ten?
Uthoff, a 6-foot-8 forward, received permission Thursday from Wisconsin athletics officials, including Athletics Director Barry Alvarez, to contact any non-league basketball program. That means any school outside the conference may recruit Uthoff and offer him a scholarship. But Uthoff could be interested in competing in the Big Ten. He has eight days to appeal the Big Ten restrictions, and he’s undecided if he wants to do so.
“I’m just going to take it one step at a time now and see what I like out there right now,” Uthoff said Thursday. “And then we’ll kind of go from there.
“I just want to see each school and see the positives and negatives and see how I would fit.”
Uthoff’s AAU coach, Iowa Barnstormers Executive Director Jamie Johnson, said Uthoff has expressed interest in Iowa State, Florida, Creighton and Northern Iowa. Uthoff said he will visit Creighton on Monday and plans to visit Iowa State in early May. He added that he has no time table.
“I’m just looking for the best fit for me,” he said. “Whether a team is on the rise or not is really not really a concern of mine. It’s all different types of aspects of the system and of the program. It’s not necessarily if it’s a program on the rise.”
Uthoff, a Marengo native, was heavily recruited as a prep by Big Ten schools Iowa, Indiana and Illinois among others before picking Wisconsin in July 2010. He red-shirted this season and is ineligible to compete for any Division I school next year because of NCAA transfer rules.
If Uthoff were allowed to transfer to a Big Ten school without restriction, he could receive an immediate scholarship but be ineligible to compete for one year. If he left Wisconsin without permission for another Big Ten school, he would be ineligible for a scholarship and competition in his first year. But he could receive a scholarship and compete in all subsequent seasons, according to Chad Hawley, Big Ten associate commissioner of compliance.
That recent rule change — Big Ten intra-conference transfers forfeited all scholarships before the current school year — intrigues Uthoff.
“It’s a possibility, yes,” Uthoff said.
Wisconsin officials released a statement Thursday about Uthoff and his options. It reads, “If Uthoff wishes to further appeal the ‘permission to contact’ denial to any Big Ten university, he may request a hearing to the Chair of the Athletic Board within 8 business days.”
Uthoff asked for his scholarship release April 12. He was restricted immediately from speaking with all Big Ten schools, Iowa State and Marquette. Wisconsin added all Atlantic Coast Conference schools to the list Monday and then Wednesday added Florida.
According to Wisconsin’s statement, Uthoff requested permission to contact 16 schools and four were denied. Uthoff said those schools were Iowa, Iowa State, Indiana and Marquette. Wisconsin officials and men’s basketball coach Bo Ryan met after Uthoff’s appeal hearing and lifted all non-Big Ten restrictions.
“Ryan is supportive of denials of Big Ten institutions only and has wanted the appeals process to serve as a means for dialogue to occur between Uthoff and UW Athletics administration,” according to the statement.
Uthoff was Iowa’s Mr. Basketball in 2011 after leading the state in scoring at more than 26 points a game. His transfer reached viral status with national websites, television and radio shows nationally. Uthoff said he’s received positive support from his family and friends through the process.
“It is a big relief. I’m just glad it’s over,” Uthoff said.