LaBoy hasn't been to Warrior practices

Updated: December 23, 2003, 2:56 AM ET
Associated Press

HONOLULU -- Western Athletic Conference defensive player of the year Travis LaBoy won't play in the Hawaii Bowl, Hawaii coach June Jones said Monday.

Jones said he hasn't heard from or seen the senior defensive end, voted by the team as its most valuable player, since Saturday. The Warriors (8-5) play Houston (7-5) on Thursday.

"I haven't seen him, so he won't play," Jones said after practice.

LaBoy told The Honolulu Advertiser on Monday that he will be academically ineligible to play. The WAC requires that student-athletes pass at least six credit hours in a semester leading up to a postseason contest.

LaBoy, of San Rafael, Calif., had 76 tackles and led the WAC in quarterback sacks (13) and tackles for loss (22). He also intercepted two passes and recovered two fumbles for Hawaii (8-5).

"I'm disappointed he let his teammates down, that's too bad," Jones said. "I feel like when these things happen, the next guy will step up and be a star."

As a scholarship player, LaBoy was required to be enrolled in a minimum of 12 credits this semester.

"It's a big loss to our team. He's a great player," Hawaii wide receiver Chad Owens said. "We're just going to try to do our best without him."

Owens said LaBoy was probably more focused on his aspirations to play in the NFL rather than his school work.

"I guess he's real confident in his ability that he's going to make it to the next level, which he is because he's a great athlete," Owens said. "I hate to say this, but he just really wanted to focus just on football so he ensured that dream of his."

Jones downplayed the loss of LaBoy.

"It doesn't affect us at all," he said. "We've got some very good defensive ends that are going to prove they can play too. Although Travis is one of those guys that had an unbelievable year, the next going guy will have an unreal game."

Houston coach Art Briles said he won't make any adjustments.

"Does it change what we're going to do? No sir," Briles said. "Is he a very good football player? Yes, he is. But this is a team sport. It's not golf. It's not tennis."

Warriors defensive line coach Vantz Singletary said sophomore Mel Purcell, who has 33 tackles and 3 sacks this season, will start. Others also will see some action.

"There's four other guys that's lined up in that right defensive end position that certainly exemplified a lot of what Travis LaBoy has displayed on game day," Singletary said. "So I'll take that group of men by committee and build me a new robot."

Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press