Remember Leticia Romero?
The Canary Islands-native was one of the best freshman in women’s college basketball last season, but she was held hostage for a couple of months by Kansas State when she decided that she wanted to transfer out of the program when the coaching staff was fired.
It made national headlines earlier this spring, generating mountains of negative publicity for Kansas State in the process.
All for a women’s basketball player who, while quite talented, isn’t going to be making headlines.
Here’s how irrelevant that transfer would have been if Kansas State hadn’t decided they were going to try and bully Romero into staying in Manhattan: On Monday, Florida State announced that Romero had signed on with the program.
It’s Thursday today. I know the World Cup is just kicking off and the NBA Finals are in full swing, but that doesn’t change the fact that you haven’t heard a mumbling word about Romero’s decision until now.
“Leticia is a significant addition to Florida State Women’s Basketball,” FSU coach Sue Semrau said in a statement released by FSU. “She has already proven that she is a tremendous player at this level. She led her team in 10 statistical categories as a freshman in the Big 12. We’re looking forward to Leti being an integral part of the Seminole family.”
Memo to all athletic departments: Just save yourself the embarrassment and negative headlines and give your athletes a release when they ask for it.
For more than a month the Kansas State athletic department refused to grant guard Leticia Romero’s request to be released from her scholarship, citing concerns about members from the previous coaching staff using her status in order to gain employment at another school. However as the month progressed and criticism grew, athletic director John Currie had a change of heart, writing a letter to the school’s appeals committee on Romero’s behalf.
But the group did not reverse its decision to deny Romero’s appeal, stating that it’s verdict was final.
Something changed between that point in time and today, with Kansas State announcing Tuesday that Romero will be released from her scholarship and is now free to transfer to any school not in the Big 12. It’s about time.
“We appreciate the support of K-State fans during this time and wish Leticia all the best in her future pursuits,” Currie said in a statement released by the school.
Romero would have been free to transfer to another school without the release, but she would not have have been able to receive a scholarship. A native of the Canary Islands, Romero joined the program due to the presence of then-head coach Deb Patterson and decided to leave after the coaching staff was not retained.
According to GoPowercat.com Tuesday’s announcement comes as a result of the school modifying its institutional policy regarding transfers. Was this really the case? Or did the amount of criticism the school received over the last month-plus lead to the move to grant Romero’s request to be released?
Regardless of what the answer is it doesn’t do a school much good to hold onto a player who doesn’t want to be a part of the program. And in cases of “tampering,” the presence of actual proof should be necessary.
The hell that Leticia Romero is being put through by Kansas State took its weirdest turn to date on Saturday.
According to a report from The Manhattan Mercury, Romero was actually given a release by Kansas State to visit and potentially transfer to Middle Tennessee State.
It wasn’t intentional, however. It was a “clerical error”. You see, Middle Tennessee State was on the initial list of 94 schools that Romero gave to Kansas State when she was asking to be released, but Romero believes that Kansas State didn’t realize it until after they granted her a release to the school on Thursday.
The school tried to rescind the release, but the NCAA ruled that once a release has been given, it cannot be retracted.
It’s final and binding, which just so happens to be the language that Kansas State used when they released a statement on Wednesday night saying that it wasn’t possible for them to give Romero a release to any of the schools on her list because she had already been denied by the Appeals Committee.
But this is proof that Kansas State can, actually, do the right thing and grant Romero a release.
They just don’t want to.
Enough is enough.
Someone at Kansas State needs to step in and realize that the school is getting mountains of negative PR for an athlete in a non-revenue sport by upholding a rule that is likely to be changed when the Power Five conferences are given autonomy.
It’s utterly incompetent and another stain on the reputation of Athletic Director John Currie, whose inability to get along with former head coach Frank Martin reportedly drove Martin to take the job at South Carolina.
If you would like to email Currie to let him know just how stupid and petulant he is being, here is the link.