Republished from the Jefferson City News Tribune
COLUMBIA — Ryan Rosburg has seen a lot in his time on the Missouri men’s basketball team: an unexpected coaching change, numerous transfers, a steep decline in the program’s quality of play and attendance — and now, self-imposed sanctions.
What he won’t see is another shot at March Madness.
“A lot has happened under my last four years,” Rosburg said. “I think if I was a better writer, I could probably write a book, but I’m not.”
Missouri announced Wednesday it had self-imposed penalties for five NCAA infractions committed during former coach Frank Haith’s time at Missouri. For Rosburg, one of just two current Tigers who played under Haith, that means missing postseason play in his final collegiate season.
“It hurts, because it feels like I’m being punished the most,” he said, “and I wasn’t involved.”
One of Missouri’s self-imposed penalties is a ban on postseason play this season, and as the team’s lone senior, Rosburg is the only Tiger without a chance of playing in a future NCAA Tournament.
“I feel sorry for Ryan,” freshman Terrence Phillips said. “Ryan is my brother. Ryan is my family, and I hate that this has to come down in his last season here, but we’re going to go play every game here on out, obviously, like it’s our last game.”
With an 8-8 record and a team still rebuilding, a postseason invitation was not likely for the Tigers this year.
But the ban also includes the Southeastern Conference Tournament in Nashville, which typically includes every SEC team.
“Obviously not playing in the SEC Tournament is tough and a hard pill to swallow,” Rosburg said. “I know I had a lot of family that was making reservations and flights to see my last couple games, so that hurts.”
Rosburg, a native of Chesterfield, is averaging 3.7 points and 3.5 rebounds per game this season. He is playing an average of 16.1 minutes per game and his most recent contributions have come as an inside presence off the bench.
“He’s been a great leader and a great representative of our program for four years,” coach Kim Anderson said.
Rosburg did not play in Missouri’s lone NCAA Tournament appearance during his collegiate career, a 2013 loss to Colorado State his freshman year. He and junior guard Wes Clark are the only current Missouri players who played under Haith. Clark was not made available to the media Wednesday.
Rosburg said the team was taken aback by Wednesday’s announcement, less than 24 hours after Missouri’s 33-point home loss to Arkansas.
“We walked into the film room expecting to watch the game from last night, and the A.D., deputy A.D. and compliance people walked in, and everyone was like, ‘What’s going on?’” he said. “I mean, it was just difficult to hear, I guess, but I was surprised.”
Though Rosburg’s hopes of a tournament appearance are dashed, he still wants to help move the program forward.
“We still have 15, 16 games left and a lot of chance to win and improve,” he said. “I’m not naive, and I want to help these other guys to the next years, too, so I’m just going to do everything I can as a leader on this team.”
As for himself, he doesn’t think finding motivation will be too difficult.
“I’ve got 15 organized games left, really, at this level, so I’m going to be excited for every one,” he said. “I’ve just got to encourage all the other guys to think the same. I think that everyone on this team is in it together, and we’re just going to be excited about playing and doing what we love to do.”
Phillips and fellow freshman Kevin Puryear appear to be sold.
“I’m really, really upset for Ryan,” Puryear said. “Really upset for him. It’s his senior year, and of course we wanted to go out there and play for the postseason for him, because this is his last go-around. So we’re going to try to make the best of the situation that we’re in as far as finishing out conference and finishing out the season as strong as possible.”