raig Austrie still plans to join the University of Massachusetts men's basketball program, but he will wait before making that decision official.
The uncertain future of coach Steve Lappas has made Austrie, a guard from Stamford, Conn., decide not to sign a national letter of intent during the early signing period which began Wednesday and extends until Nov. 17. After three consecutive losing seasons in Amherst, Lappas agreed to restructure his contract to allow the school to buy him out after this season for considerably less money if the Minutemen do not qualify for the postseason.
If Austrie signed and Lappas is let go after the season, Austrie would still be bound by the national letter of intent unless the school agreed to release him.
When former UMass coach Bruiser Flint was forced to resign following the 2000-01 season, the school released the three recruits his staff signed from their national letters of intent.
By not signing the letter, Austrie controls his own future.
Lappas was unable to comment about Austrie because NCAA rules prohibit coaches from publicly discussing recruits until a letter has been signed.
SCOOP BOWERS? - Artie Bowers is enrolled in the college of arts and sciences. He hasn't said that journalism would be his major, but the sophomore wing tried his hand at reporting during Thursday's basketball media day.
Much to the amusement of his teammates, when he wasn't being interviewed himself Bowers borrowed a tape recorder and a press pass and interviewed Rashaun Freeman and Maurice Maxwell.
Other than only having one helping of the free media meal, Bowers nailed the sportswriter's role. While his teammates giggled a bit around him, Bowers stayed straight forward, inquiring about each player's thoughts on the upcoming season and tonight's exhibition game.
He closed both interviews with a similar question: "How many times do you plan on kicking the ball out to Artie Bowers tomorrow night?"
NOTES: The UMass student station, WMUA-FM (91.1) will provide the only broadcast of the game, because the school's regular broadcast provider, WRNX-FM (100.9), is doing the hockey game at Boston College.
The basketball broadcast also will be available over the Internet at umassathletics.com.
Matt Vautour can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.