Jan. 3, 2005
When you first glance at Florida State men’s basketball junior forward Diego Romero, his 6-foot-10, 240-pound frame can overwhelm you. When you listen to the highly-touted, junior college transfer speak, that first impression fades, as the man who was tested for almost a year off the basketball court by the NCAA’s strict amateurism rules emerges with a vivid memory of the trials and a deep appreciation for what it took to don jersey number 25 for the Garnet and Gold.
“No question about it,” said Romero regarding his win against the NCAA. “I think Florida State did a great job helping me get my eligibility back. I will be forever grateful for that.”
Romero speaks of a tumultuous start to his career as a Seminole when he was informed that he was ruled permanently ineligible because of his club career in Argentina. He signed two underage contracts to cover his expenses while playing for his native country. He was not grandfathered in by the NCAA Division I Management Council, who made the rule change after Romero was enrolled at Lon Morris (Texas) College prior to 2001. Athletics director Dave Hart, head coach Leonard Hamilton and associate athletics director Bob Minnix were all instrumental in getting Romero’s eligibility reinstated in January of 2004. He redshirted the remainder of the season after missing 15 games in anticipation of two full seasons with the Tribe.
“It motivates me to go out there and play because, here they never left me behind, they never forgot about me,” Romero said, commenting on the relentless efforts of those at FSU who pushed his case to the end. “They worked so hard to help me get on the floor. The only way I can say thanks is by playing hard everyday.”
In a lineup that did not return a single starter from the same point in the 2003-04 season, Romero is definitely making his presence felt. He has started all eight games and leads the team in field goal shooting percentage at .618. He is second on the team in scoring with 7.8 points per game, tied for second in rebounds per game averaging 4.4 and shooting .654 from the charity stripe. He has five steals and four blocks while averaging 21.5 minutes per game.
After all the help Florida State provided in getting Romero to the court, he is actively returning the favor, serving as a role model for his young and talented teammates and a friend to his fellow upperclassmen.
“My role is to try and help the younger guys,” said Romero. “Every time I step on the floor I just try to help the team get better. Bring some energy which is something I think we’re missing.”
While the flashes of the playmaker he will be have been seen intermittently through the start of the 2004-05 season, Romero has yet to play up to his potential. As usual, the Seminoles will push hard for Diego to have the opportunity to showcase his potential.
By Lauren Williams
FSU Sports Information