Dominique Ferguson will be foregoing his final two years of eligibility and entering his name into the NBA Draft.
If your initial reaction is “Who the heck is Dominique Ferguson?”, I don’t blame you. A former top 50 recruit who originally committed to Kentucky during the Billy Gillispie era, Ferguson has spent the past two seasons at Florida International playing for Isiah Thomas. As a sophomore, he averaged 8.7 points and 6.2 rebounds, which is not exactly the kind of numbers you want to put up for a bad team in the Sun Belt if you want to attract NBA scouts.
So why is he declaring for the draft?
“They won’t give me my release and let me play anywhere else,” Ferguson told CBSSports.com.
Ferguson went to FIU to play for Isiah Thomas. While Thomas never found the kind of success he was hoping for at the collegiate level, the connection that he built with the players in his program cannot be questioned. They walked out of their athletic banquet to protest his firing last month. They wrote a letter to the administration to complain about the fact that they were unable to receive releases to transfer elsewhere.
They wanted to play for Thomas, not Richard Pitino, who was hired to fill the vacancy last week. But instead of allowing Ferguson and company to leave and pursue their basketball careers — and his education — elsewhere, FIU is perfectly fine watching one of their student-athletes leave school behind and enter the NBA Draft wholly unprepared to do so.
“They give schools too much power and treat us like they own us,” Ferguson said.
According to Ferguson, the decision was made by FIU’s Athletic Director, and not Pitino, who he met with.
“They sent an email telling me they thought it would be more beneficial for me to stay here. They’ve never met me before,” Ferguson said. “For them to tell me it would be more beneficial to stay here, it’s kind of a slap in the face.”
Ferguson is far from the only player that has had to deal with this nonsense this month. Jarrod Uthoff’s attempt to transfer made waves even before his former head coach Bo Ryan was embarrassed on Mike and Mike, forcing Wisconsin’s hand into rescinding their previous restrictions. But Jordan Clarkson, who is transferring out of Tulsa, and Damontre Harris, who is leaving South Carolina, have both also suffered from the ability of their former school to determine where they are allowed to continue their collegiate career.
It is time to change this rule. It is time to eliminate the absurd control that schools and coaches have on where their players are able to transfer to when they decide they want to transfer. Dan Wetzel perfectly laid out the hypocrisy of this rule in this column, but Ferguson’s case takes it a step further.
FIU is ending any chance that Ferguson has of going pro in something other than sports, the mantra that has been spawned by the NCAA in an effort to combat the theory that collegiate athletes should not be paid for their efforts on the field or on the court, instead forcing him to go pro in sports before he is ready to.
How many more kids have to see their career hindered before the NCAA finally rights this injustice?