One of the biggest ongoing debates in all of sports is whether or not the NCAA should pay its student athletes for their services. But one thing that is constantly overshadowed is the lack of rights that student athletes have after they sign their letters of intent.
For example, when a coach decides to leave an institution for whatever reason, they are allowed to do so with no dispute. When a student athlete decides to transfer, they are required to sit out a year before they can play or like in Leticia Romero’s case, the school has the right to deny the student athlete the right to transfer. Leticia Romero was a freshman star for Kansas State. The 5’8 freshman from Spain led the Wildcats with 14.2 points per game. After the season, when head coach Deb Patterson was fired, Romero informed the school that she intended to transfer thinking this would be a clear-cut process.
Boy was she wrong.
Kansas State flat out denied her request to be released from her scholarship, preventing her from receiving aid from any other university. Despite appealing the decision and a letter from Kansas State’s Athletic Director requesting Romero be released the decision was upheld by a university appeals committee.
The latest chapter involves director of athletics John Currie writing a confidential letter to Pat Bosco, vice president for student life and chair of the Appeals Committee, requesting that Romero be allowed to transfer after initial suspicions of tampering were deemed to be unfounded. The former K-State staff is now at Northern Colorado, with Patterson an assistant for head coach Kamie Etheridge, who was K-State’s associate head coach.
On Wednesday, a press release issued by Jeffery Morris, K-State vice president for communications and marketing, stated “the Appeals Committee’s decision is final and binding, and there is no university procedure to re-examine one of those decisions.”
Romero, who is thousands of miles away from home is being bullied into a corner by Kansas State. She can either stay and play for a school she doesn’t want to play for, or she can transfer and be forced to pay her own way through school, a burden her nor her family is able to take on. It is obvious that the reason K-State refuses to release her is because she was their best player on the team last season according to her lawyer Donald Jackson.
“I’ve never seen a case like this,” Jackson said. “They have released student-athletes in the past. Just last week, they released a quarterback from the football team (Daniel Sams) and last year they released players from the men’s basketball team. The athletic director has the ability to make the decision.
“I don’t understand what this athletic director and this university are doing to Leti. When this started she used the term ‘blackmail’ to describe it, and that’s what it is. She’s a young woman from another country, but I’m a 48-year-old attorney and I don’t know what else to call it but blackmail.”
Currently Romero and her attorney are going through steps to request a waiver with the NCAA that would enable to her to receive financial aid if she does indeed transfer. At this time Jackson is unsure if this will be resolved by the beginning of the 2014-15 school year.
“This won’t be resolved in a day, a week or a month,” he said. “The only way it will be resolved quickly is if the university does the right thing and grants Leti her release.”
Romero’s case is just another example of how the NCAA and its institutions practice complete control over their student athletes. Since scholarships are signed on a yearly basis, if a school decides an athlete is not performing up to their standards, they can simply not resign the student athlete. Yet a player can decide they want to take their talents elsewhere and be denied if the University sees fit.
This situation has made national headlines bringing a lot of negative attention Kansas State’s way but the real issue is the NCAA and their hypocrisy. With all of the backlash updated transfer rules are expected to follow. Ironically, the NCAA and their outdated policies are aiding in their own downfall.
What do you think? Should athletes be able to transfer freely or should schools be able to decide if a student can transfer or not?