Prime Time League downsizes following UNI's withdrawal

BY SETH ROBERTS | MAY 08, 2012 6:30 AM

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A new NCAA rule has caused Northern Iowa head men's basketball coach Ben Jacobson to withdraw his players from the annual Prime Time League held each summer in North Liberty, according to a release.

The reduced pool of players caused league Commissioner Randy Larson to cut the number of teams in the league to four (down from six), and the Des Moines Register reported that Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery asked Larson to cut the number of game nights, as well. The 2012 season will consist of seven days of games (down from a maximum of 11, including playoffs, last summer).

"We'll certainly miss seeing the UNI guys, because they always play hard and the right way," Larson said in a release.

Jacobson's decision stemmed from a new NCAA rule that allows college basketball coaches to work with their players four new times per week in the summer, although practice time must be held to two total hours per week.

The release said Northern Iowa won't participate in Prime Time "because of the time constraints" and cited the "12 hours or so a week away from campus" playing would entail. The roughly 80-mile commute between UNI's campus in Cedar Falls and the league's home base in North Liberty would have made up the bulk of those 12 hours.

And while Larson said the Panther players will be missed, he noted that the league could be more competitive than before in the wake of Jacobson's decision.

The league will still draw current and incoming players from Iowa — not to mention a list of ex-Hawkeyes that includes Jarryd Cole, Duez Henderson, Darryl Moore, and possibly Matt Gatens — along with athletes at Upper Iowa and Kirkwood Community College. The league is also open to high-school athletes and professional players, and it will hold a tryout at the Field House on June 10.

"We'll have two current Iowa players on each team, plus about two ex-Hawks on each team, plus more than one incoming Hawks per team, so you should have a full starting team on each squad that consists of Hawkeyes," he said in the release. "… It'll make the talent level and competition the highest it has ever been."

Jacobson couldn't be reached for comment, but Larson said in the release that the UNI coach told him his players were "very disappointed to not be able to do it and in future years hope to return."

Former Panther star and Sports Illustrated cover boy Ali Farokhmanesh, an Iowa City native, is still expected to compete in the league's 26th season.

Prime Time's sister event, the Game Time League, will still feature UNI players from the Panthers' women's squad; the league will be split into six teams that will each play an eight-game regular season. The release said all healthy Iowa and UNI players are likely to participate; that excludes Hawkeye guards Jaime Printy and Kathryn Reynolds, who are both recovering from torn ACLs.

Game Time will also be open to those that wish to try out on June 10. Those interested in joining either league can visit primetimebasketball.com to begin the application process.

Prime Time's first night of games will be held on June 19, and the Game Time season will kick off on June 20.

Follow DI Sports Editor Seth Roberts on Twitter.

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