Romero had been ruled eligible to play

Updated: January 15, 2004, 7:21 PM ET
Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida State's Diego Romero decided to sit out this season just days after he was ruled eligible by the NCAA.

Romero, a 6-foot-10 player from Argentina, was initially ruled a professional by the NCAA but was reinstated Monday. He could have played immediately, but chose to redshirt because he had already missed half the season. He has two years of eligibility remaining.

Romero missed the first 15 games of the season while his case was being sorted out. The decision to sit out was made after the player consulted with his parents in Argentina and coach Leonard Hamilton.

A social studies major at Florida State, Romero said he would use the rest of the year to concentrate on his classes and work on improving his game.

"It's kind of weird, but I like going to class every day," said Romero, who earned a 3.0 grade point in his first semester at Florida State.

"I wanted to play so badly this season," he said. "But I think this is the best thing for all who've done so much for me."

Hamilton said Romero would practice and travel with the team.

"I'm glad it's over and I can concentrate on coaching my team," Hamilton said. "It's been a distraction, that's for sure."

The Seminoles (12-4, 1-2 ACC) have lost three straight games. Romero was banned on an amateurism violation for signing two professional contracts in Argentina to receive $2,400 in living expenses.

The school argued he didn't intend to become a professional athlete, and that he should have been exempted under the rules in place when he began playing at a Texas junior college.

Romero, who hails from Comodoro Rivadavia in Argentina, played two seasons at Lon Morris Junior College in Texas. He averaged 14.5 points and 8.5 rebounds last year.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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