Star-Bulletin Sports

Thursday, April 8, 1999

R A I N B O W _ F O O T B A L L

Tharp decides
to leave

The running back had a
disappointing sophomore year
and his role in UH's new
offense was uncertain

By Paul Arnett


Hawaii running back Charles Tharp has left the building.

The 1997 Western Athletic Conference Pacific Division Newcomer of the Year asked for and was given his release yesterday by Rainbows head coach June Jones.

"He came in and met with me and asked if he could transfer to another school," Jones said after yesterday's practice. "I told him he could, if that's what he wanted."

Tharp was suspended from spring football by Jones for breaking an unspecified team rule. Although he told Jones and NCAA compliance officer Kaia Hedlund three weeks ago that he planned to return, several former and current players knew otherwise.

"I even asked him about it after I heard the same rumors," Jones said. "But he told me then he was coming back. Hey, this is the way I feel about it: If you don't want to be here, we don't want you here."

Jones said Tharp is looking into a couple of schools in Colorado and Illinois. The East Palo Alto, Calif., resident has a redshirt year available to him. That means he has three years to play two. And because Tharp was given an outright release, he also can be put on scholarship right away.

"I guess we could have kept him from getting a scholarship for one season, but I didn't want to do that," Jones said.

Tharp had an outstanding freshman season. He not only led the Rainbows in rushing with 796 yards and seven touchdowns, he also was the team leader in receptions with 42 catches for 435 yards and one score.

Last summer, he was a nominee for the Doak Walker Award, given to the nation's top running back. But Tharp just wasn't as effective in Don Lindsey's offensive schemes. Several times, he got frustrated over lack of playing time.

He and secondary coach Mickey Pruitt had a heated discussion at practice late last year. Several seniors, including wide receiver Wesley Morris, refused to play the second half of the season finale with Michigan, if Tharp was on the field.

The sophomore finished the season with 722 yards rushing. He had only 19 catches for 153 yards.

"As I've said before, guys who may have been successful in last year's offense, may not work out in ours," Jones said. "And other players, who didn't do well last year, may be a better fit for us."

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