Today, something strange happened. Kansas State finally did the right thing and granted star guard, Leticia Romero, her release - but only after two months of unnecessary drama. Why did they take so long? It was like watching a superfluous filibuster.
Kansas State's long PR nightmare is over
•Bring On The CatsAfter two months of complaints, inept decision-making, blind Twitter outrage, bizarre leaks and "clerical errors," Big 12 Freshman of the Year Leti Romero is free to transfer from Kansas State to any school outside the conference.
Romero, the star player from the women's basketball team, wanted to transfer from the university, but the Wildcats were engaging in a bunch of shenanigans in not releasing this young lady from her scholarship.
I'm sure many people are somewhat familiar with the current morass and mishandling of Romero. But one thing that I truly loathe is a hypocrite -- and that's exactly what the Kansas State administration should be defined as, hypocrites.
By definition a hypocrite is, "a person who claims or pretends to have certain beliefs about what is right but who behaves in a way that disagrees with those beliefs."
Kansas State's administration fits that to a tee, don't you think?
Let's shine a microscope on the main hypocrite who presented himself as an advocate for the well-being of student-athletes: Athletic Director John Currie.
Currie, the $800,000 man himself -- he actually made $761,247.76, as last reported in 2012 by the Topeka Capital-Journal, but you get my drift - is very well off. Earlier last week, ESPN ran a great piece on Outside the Lines calling attention to this fiasco.
And Currie, who didn't make himself available, which isn't surprising as hypocrites always run from confrontation, put out what turned out to be just a gimmick letter. The letter states:
"The purpose of this letter is to provide additional information that I have gathered subsequent to the committee's hearing with Leticia Romero on April, 16, 2014. Although it is unprecedented, I believe that is in the student-athlete's best interest for the committee to reconvene to consider this new information and potentially approve her request for a conditional transfer release."
And then cleverly, Kansas State put out a release late last Wednesday night, essentially debunking the confidential letter:
Recent media reports may have created the impression that the university is reconsidering student athlete Leticia Romero's request for a transfer. The news reports are based on an apparent photo of a confidential letter from Athletic Director John Currie to Pat Bosco, vice president for student life at Kansas State University.
Under university policy, the Appeals Committee's decision is final and binding, and there is no university procedure to reexamine one of those decisions. Thus, the university process concludes with the Appeals Committee's decision. Also, the final and binding nature of these decisions does not allow for them to be overturned by university administrators.
So, why was the letter drafted if this policy is in place?
What we're supposed to believe is that Kansas State was so concerned about "outside tampering or procedures not being followed" that they were refusing to grant the release until Currie spoke with Romero to allay those concerns, as reported by The Wichita Eagle. Even that narrative reflects how Kansas State seemed to totally disregard her words, her heart and her feelings throughout the process -- dismissing them because they have the "power" to do so; great examples to set as an institution of higher learning, K-State (enter sarcastic laugh).
But even if Currie's position changed in light of new information - not a bad thing - the idea of denying a release anywhere for fear of tampering is worthy of the scorn the administration received. And whether a matter of incompetence or willful deceit, It wasn't until media pressure made this too embarrassing to bear that KSU finally granted Romero her release.
Yet there's another layer to this, someone who was an innocent bystander but is implicated by association: new head women's basketball coach Jeff Mittie.
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This is the same Mittie who left TCU in April to take a job at Kansas State - ironically, the same conference. And for the most part, he wouldn't be the focus of attention, but the Wildcats administration's behavior causes one to delve deeper.
So let's get this straight: Mittie could essentially "transfer" to another school within the same conference, all while being paid $375,000; however, Romero couldn't get a release to transfer to 94 schools she listed, which neither included schools in the Big 12 nor Northern Colorado where the former Kansas State coaching staff is now coaching.
Mittie isn't at fault for doing what he wanted to do, but the juxtaposition between Kansas State getting its new coach from within the conference while denying their player the opportunity to leave is jarring and speaks to the broader hypocrisy within the NCAA.
Even when North Carolina found out that National Freshman of the Year was transferring, they didn't react with strong arm tactics that even the mob would find deplorable. The Tar Heels, who everyone knows were woebegone in losing DeShields, simply granted her a release - they didn't behave as a vindictive administration hell bent on punishing an 18-year old freshman.
One thing that Romero did that I'm sure the Kansas State's administration figured she wouldn't do is that she fought and spoke up - relentlessly. Romero did not waver or wilt under the bullying pressure and tactics of Currie and his administration.
And in talking with Romero a few nights ago, I found her to be engaging, honest, genuine, mature and avuncular. Something that Kansas State's administration is not -- most notably John Currie.
Romero took a stand and fought for what was right; too bad Kansas State's administration didn't do the right thing until they were forced to by national scrutiny not normally given to women's basketball - the story was that egregious. Is that what higher education for student-athletes should be about?
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