College players iffy on return

May 23, 2003 12:00 am

By DAN GOLDMAN

Coaches and players are still waiting to hear whether Columbia College will continue its basketball program next year.

It's been three weeks since the men's basketball program was put on probation, and President Jim Riggs and Athletic Director George Railey have not decided the team's fate, leading several players to express doubts about returning next season.

The team's future — and whether head Coach Andy Vasher and his staff will stay — remains up in the air, and there is no timetable for those decisions, said Douglas Lau, the school's spokesman.

"I have no idea what's going on," said Mike Provstgaard, a red-shirt freshman last season. He's spending the summer in his hometown of Payson, Utah. "They haven't contacted us or nothing.

"I was considering going back, but now I'm weighing my options with this going on. I just wish I knew more about what's going on."

Although the Central Valley Conference and Commission On Athletics said rule violations warranted the program's one-year probation, Riggs and Railey have said they will decide soon if suspension — or even elimination — are appropriate.

"A decision like that would have to be made soon. We would not decide at the last minute to do that because there are players involved, and other teams," Riggs said May 7, when the probation was announced.

But for some of the players, soon isn't fast enough.

"I've been planning on going back there, but I've got to make a decision in the next week or week-and-a-half," said Brady Buys, also from Payson. He also spent his freshman season as a red-shirt.

"I've been talking to a number of schools in Southern California — Cypress, Orange Coast, College of the Desert — in case things don't work out there."

The probation was handed down after an internal investigation by school officials of the basketball program and found, among other violations, that athletic officials had been managing players' financial-aid and work-study checks. The probation means the team is eligible to play its regular-season schedule in 2003-04, but is banned from postseason play.