Haith dismisses Zach Price from Missouri basketball team

Thursday, April 10, 2014 | 1:17 p.m. CDT; updated 6:27 p.m. CDT, Thursday, April 10, 2014

*CLARIFICATION: Earnest Ross did not declare for the NBA draft. Information was unclear in a previous version of this story.

COLUMBIA — In light of a weeklong saga that has included two arrests and a restraining order against him, transfer forward Zach Price has been dismissed from the Missouri basketball team, MU athletics announced in a news release Thursday.

Price sat out his entire first season for Frank Haith after transferring before the season from Louisville. The 6-foot-10, 250-pound forward was expected to legitimize Missouri's frontcourt next season after the Tigers struggled mightily this year because of a lack of size and strength on the block.

But Price won't get a chance to now thanks in part to his volatile relationship with senior guard Earnest Ross, who filed a restraining order against Price on April 2

Price was arrested twice in a span of 13 hours on April 3 on suspicion of assault and domestic assault that sprang from incidents the previous day.

“Last week’s situation was unacceptable, and after a review, I have decided that Zach will no longer be a part of our program," Haith said in a statement. "The off-the-court incidents involving our program over the past few months will not be tolerated. Our program represents the entire university and needs to be an asset. That’s my responsibility as our head coach at Mizzou, and we’ll get it fixed.”

With his first arrest in the early morning on April 3, Price became the third Missouri basketball player to be arrested in three weeks. He was accused of punching a 23-year-old man in the face and pushing a female victim to the ground. He was arrested again that afternoon in a separate incident that occurred the previous day. 

Ross filed the restraining order against Price at 4:04 p.m. the day of the first incident.

"He (Price) has tried to harm me and my girlfriend in my vehicle, tried to run me off the road several times," Ross wrote in the order. "I feel threatened by this activity and violated. He endangered my life and not only me but others around me. All I want is to be safe."

Patrick Eng, Price's lawyer, said that Price has not been formally charged with anything, despite the arrests. 

"Everybody involved is very surprised that this is happening," Eng told the Missourian on Wednesday night. "I think it boils down to a big misunderstanding between two good friends."

Eng declined to elaborate, but Ross explained further in his restraining order. 

"Wreckless (sic) driving near car, hit my car a few times, was following me and trying to steer me off the road," Ross wrote. "Tried to harm me and put me in danger. He performed illegal traffic violations in order to harm me and my vehicle. Followed me while I was going to police station. My girlfriend was also in the vehicle."

Although previous police reports have said that Price was arrested for assaulting a roommate, Ross' protective order says the two "never resided together." When asked to describe his relationship with Price, Ross wrote that they "were good friends."

"There's a good explanation on that. I'm not going to comment further," Eng said, when asked about the discrepancy in the men's living situation.

In February, Price said he considered Ross his closest friend on the team. Ross would leave his dog — a coonhound and Labrador mix named Sady — at Price's apartment when the Tigers went on the road. Price could not travel with the team as per transfer rules.

The night before a home game, the two friends had a ritual: They would eat crab legs for dinner. 

Ross averaged 14 points per game in 31 minutes per game in his senior season for the Tigers. He is expected to graduate in May.

Price averaged 1.3 points per game and 1.4 rebounds per game for Louisville in 2012-13. 

His dismissal opens up another scholarship for Haith, who entered the offseason thinking he would only need to replace Ross* and two players who declared for the NBA draft, Jordan Clarkson and Jabari Brown.

Add Zach Price to that list. 

Missourian reporter Ryan Hood contributed to this report.

Supervising editor is Greg Bowers.

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