One week after it was reported that both players made the decision to transfer, Houston’s Danuel House and TaShawn Thomas went through separate appeal meetings on Thursday. The goal for both: being granted a release from their respective scholarships and, as a result, having the opportunity to look for a new school.
Both requests were turned down by the athletic department, with the players making their desires known the day after the school hired Kelvin Sampson as its new head coach. Sampson to replace James Dickey, and the feeling at the time was that with the talented House (13.6 ppg, 5.3 rpg) and Thomas (15.4, 8.1) in the fold Sampson could potentially hit the ground running in 2014-15.
But with neither player having the desire to remain a part of the program, that won’t be the case. And after going through their hearings Thursday, neither House nor Thomas is entertaining thoughts of sticking around according to Joseph Duarte of the Houston Chronicle:
“If I come back I’m not going to be looked at as that same guy,” Thomas said. “Everybody is going to look at me with a dirty eye. I don’t feel like me coming back would be a good idea.”
Said House: “The fans and the alumni would look at us differently now that we’ve gone through the process to get our release. Maybe they feel like we’re not even worth wearing the Cougar red anymore. That would be very uncomfortable and would really hurt.”
While it is rare there have been other examples of players stating their desire to transfer, only to have a change of heart and remain with the original program. Marquette’s Jake Thomas would be one example of this. But when a player clearly states his desire to leave after completing a season, regardless of who the school hires as its new head coach, what’s there to be gained by denying the request to be released from the scholarship?
Some will bring up the “investment” made by a school when defending the program’s decision to deny a player his release from the scholarship in order to find a new home. But it should also be noted that scholarships are “one-year renewable,” meaning that a program can decide not to renew the grant-in-aid for whatever reason they deem fit. And if there’s a concern about a new school possibly tampering with a player, why not just deny the release to that particular school?
At this point it’s clear that neither player wants to be a part of the Houston program and the same was true for Jaaron Simmons, who was allowed to leave the program without an issue according to the Chronicle. So regardless of what the committee decides it’s time to let House and Thomas move on to another program, because denying them that right won’t solve the issue.