Anthony Allen transfer

I had already written my Wednesday column, for the most part, when Brian Bennett came out with his story about the University of Louisville denying a request from running back Anthony Allen to speak with Arkansas.

Allen hasn’t expressed a desire to talk with the Razorbacks and new coach Bobby Petrino (U of L’s old coach), but would like to have the opportunity to do so.

His father, Amos Allen, told Brian, “They told us that if they let Anthony go there, it would be open season on their other players.”

This is where it gets a little unclear. What players are they talking about? I thought Petrino left the cupboard bare. I thought the group was riddled with off-the-field issues.

But I digress.

Clearly, this dredges up old memories of another player who was denied permission to transfer to the school of his choice. His name was Marvin Stone. He was leaving Kentucky and wanted to go to Louisville. But UK, citing a policy of not allowing players to transfer to other SEC schools or schools on its schedule, denied him a release. What followed was a stiff and prolonged period of media condemnation, accompanied by a legal challenge, which prompted UK to change its mind.

U of L, meanwhile, apparently had no qualms about being on the receiving end of such a transfer, and took Stone.

Now, however, the school apparently has a problem with the practice, and says Allen can’t talk to Arkansas, specifically because its coach is Bobby Petrino. (Imagine the firestorm had UK said Stone couldn’t talk to U of L specifically because its coach was Rick Pitino.)

Now, I’m not sure what my columnist colleague Rick Bozich will write about today. It may be that he tackles this subject first. If not, it may be up to me to weigh in on it later this week. So I’ll just not comment on it at all at this point. I won’t say a word.

All I’m going to do is print what was said back in 2002 when UK athletic director Larry Ivy and coach Tubby Smith tried to institute such a policy with Stone.

Our own Rick Bozich called Ivy’s handling of the Stone situation “ham-handed.”

Our own Pat Forde (now of ESPN) called it “repugnant and wrong.” He said it was evidence of “the plantation mentality” in college sports. He called the affair “a national black eye for Kentucky” and “the low point of an error-prone tenure” for Ivy.

The following is courtesy of a Jan. 13, 2002 piece by Jerry Tipton in the Lexington Herald-Leader:

Indiana University professor Murray Sperber called the rule giving schools the authority to release or not release players who wanted to transfer, “absurd.” He also said: “It shows you how everything in the NCAA and the rules are weighted toward the coaches and the athletic directors, and (weighted) away from the so-called student-athletes. Coaches can go any time, any place. No penalty. No problems at all. It’s a means of controlling players. It’s a means of being punitive.”

Jay Bilas of ESPN said that denying Stone permission to transfer to U of L made UK look “scared.” He also said,“You get adults signing contracts and breaking them to go to other schools. To me, it would be hard to sit a kid down and explain to him how that is equitable.”

There was this withering criticism from Dan Wetzel of CBS Sportsline, now of Yahoo! Sports:“In citing a policy that is hypocritical, unduly harsh and completely small-minded, the UK athletic director and coach have shamed themselves. . . . UK’s spineless defense is that policies are policies, college hoops is big business and other schools have done this also — a terrible example of misplaced priorities and situational ethics. We certainly expected more out of “teacher-coach” Smith. Deep down he knows this is wrong, but has yet to demonstrate the conviction to demand the policy be ignored. If Smith said so, it would be done. Since it hasn’t, let this be a cautionary tale to future recruits who consider placing their trust in the program.”

Also from Tipton’s report:

Under the headline “Abuse of Power,” Sports Illustrated suggested that Kentucky acted “Stone cold” in initially denying Marvin Stone a release to Louisville. The magazine quoted Ramogi Huma, a former linebacker at UCLA who created the Collegiate Athletes Coalition, a quasi players’ association for college athletes.

“I hope recruits pay attention to which schools treat their players right and which ones don’t,” he said, “because what Kentucky is doing is tyrannical.”

. . . In defense of the initial denial of a release to Louisville, Larry Ivy noted the possible setting of a bad precedent in which other UK players might seek a transfer to U of L.

To which, ESPN commentator Jay Bilas said, “To me, that’s really a scared position to take. Like Kentucky’s going to be frightened of anybody else? I can’t imagine that.”

So let’s review. In denying Stone permission to transfer to U of L, UK was called hypocritical, tyrannical, absurd, ham-handed, repugnant, wrong, punitive, harsh, small-minded, shamed, spineless and scared.

That’s when the policy was UK’s. Now we see if what’s good for the goose is also good for the Cardinal.

I’d advise that there are two mitigating circumstances. First, the nation doesn’t care as much about a U of L football player and Arkansas as it did about a former UK player signing on for Pitino. So there won’t be a national uproar. Second, Allen has not expressed a desire to transfer to Arkansas, though the fact that he and his father drove up to Louisville for this appeal says something.

Still, those don’t change the root comparison. More to come, I’m sure.


25 thoughts on “Anthony Allen transfer

  1. Eric, I think you’ve been a great addition to the paper and are usually spot on in your columns/blogs, but I have to disagree in this matter. I think there are some circumstances in the Stone/Allen comparison that you’re either purposely omitting, or that didn’t occur to you. Pitino joined UofL a full four years after being at UK. Stone never played for Pitino at UK and was not recruited by Pitino, which is probably true for every player at UK in 2001.Pitino was a full four years removed from UK. Petrino left UofL almost exactly a year ago. With the exception of the true freshman on the football team, Petrino had a hand in the coaching and/or recruitment of every player at UofL.The same can not be said of ANY player at UK when Pitino came to UofL.The comparison is absurd.If Pitino had coached at Boston for less than a year and then came to UofL, the comparison/analogy would stand. The importance of the difference in time should be readily apparent. Why should Petrino have access to the players still at UofL that, most importantly, were recruited on UofL’s dollar?If Petrino had spent 4 years in the NFL prior to Arkansas(I know, I know… work with me), there’s no doubt in my mind that no UofL player would be denied a transfer to his team. But as it stands, he should not be allowed to cherry-pick talent at UofL that he recruited with UofL money.

  2. The comparison is anything but absurd.UK was slaughtered nationally for arbitrarily trying to tell a player where he could our couldn’t transfer.That U of L acknowledged it is the presence of Bobby Petrino at Arkansas that prompted its policy only makes it worse.There are ways to deal with this without restricting a kid’s ability to transfer where he wants to.The fact is, we heard for much of the season that Petrino left behind a roster full of holes. Now the word is that U of L wants to keep Petrino from raiding it.If anything, UK’s policy had some rational foundation, because UK plays U of L every year.What’s absurd is the notion that a coach can actively recruit a significant number of players away from one NCAA Division I program to another.You have no doubt that U of L wouldn’t bar transfers to Petrino had he spent four years or more in the NFL? I have lots of doubt.The basic principle is the same in both cases — the freedom of players to transfer to the schools of their choice within reasonable limits.That U of L was willing to take a Marvin Stone, and thereby lend its approval to the practice of taking players from schools you’re in active competition with means that they’re going to be called on the carpet if they start playing hardball with players leaving their own programs.

  3. Bravo, Eric–I had the exact same thoughts when U of L issued its conditional release. I held my breath so long anticipating the inevitable calling out of U of L’s actions by Bozich/Forde/Wetzel/et al. that I nearly passed out. Finally, someone had the guts to call out Tom Jurich for his hypocrisy on this issue.bmxcard’s distinctions are distinctions without a difference. He claims that Pitino didn’t recruit Stone. I’d quibble with this; although he may not have recruited Stone right out of high school, there were strong rumors at the time that Stone had set up back channels to negotiate with Pitino to transfer to U of L. This was in keeping with Pitino’s M.O. at UK in actively seeking transfers (Travis Ford, Derek Anderson, Mark Pope). And Stone didn’t just wake up one day with the epiphany that of the 300+ Division I basketball schools, U of L was the school for him. He certainly indirectly explored it with U of L, the same way Allen now wants to in the open with Arkansas. But even if Pitino didn’t, so what? U of L is still engaging in the same plantation mentality and fear motivation that Ivy was called out for during the Stone episode. Petrino’s time away from U of L does not mitigate that whatsoever. Jurich is being petty and vindictive.My only question is–why did it take so long for anyone to take up this issue? Many UK fans believe that Bozich and Forde are biased against UK. Their AWOL status on the Allen situation, after excoriating UK during the Stone episode, certainly reinforces that belief among many UK fans.

  4. BTW, just saw that Bozich did finally address the issue, so glad to see him do the right thing, as tardy as it may have been.

  5. “bmxcard’s distinctions are distinctions without a difference.”And you document this lack of distinction with what you admittedly call rumors. I expect nothing less from a Cat fan. I’m not sure why Cat fans are even concerned about this, other than trying to make their rival look bad. Each to his own, I suppose.”There are ways to deal with this without restricting a kid’s ability to transfer where he wants to.”What are those ways, Eric?I actually agreed with Bozich’s article today, in that calls could have been made to Arkansas’ AD or teh SEC Commissioner – “Take Allen if you want, but that’s it.”Is that what you’re referring to? If so, we probably agree more than you think.”The fact is, we heard for much of the season that Petrino left behind a roster full of holes. Now the word is that U of L wants to keep Petrino from raiding it.”Not that I agree it was left with holes, but even if true, do we need to make it ok to create more holes?”You have no doubt that U of L wouldn’t bar transfers to Petrino had he spent four years or more in the NFL? I have lots of doubt.”What are you basing that doubt on? Is it your assertion that this (barring AA from Ark transfer) is based solely on a grudge TJ has with Petrino? And if so, you honestly believe that grudge would last 4 years?Numerous players left the program in the last several years, either of their own accord or dismissal. To my knowledge, no restrictions were placed on them other than the BE rule. Now that UofL is protecting their roster from a coach who left almost exactly a year ago, they should be called to the carpet?I also agree that UK had a point in trying not to let Stone go to UofL. Like UofL, their defense is it was a matter of unwritten policy. UofL should be admonished for that, just as UK was. But I maintain there is a difference in the reasoning behind barring the transfers.It could have been handled better, I agree. I just don’t think the casual observer fully understands UofL motives in this. I’m just saying, I can see their side of it.Bottom line, AA still has about 110 schools he can consider.

  6. Colonel,The main reason nobody has weighed in until now was that Allen had expressed no desire to go to Arkansas in the first place. It only becomes a story, in my opinion, if Allen wants to go to or talk to Arkansas.The meeting he had with U of L two days ago constituted that.To be honest, I just thought U of L was stalling Allen on the Arkansas thing until classes started back and it became impractical for any other members of this year’s team to transfer to Arkansas. That U of L then didn’t relent opened the doors to criticism.This will never rise to the level of press you saw with Marvin Stone, because he was a high-profile player, and Pitino a high-profile coach. Nobody around the country cares where Anthony Allen goes.It shouldn’t be forgotten that Stone not only had an expressed desire to go to U of L, but also had hired a lawyer to challenge UK’s policy. Both of those ramped the story up quite a bit.

  7. BMX, the fact that numerous players have left the program without restrictions (other than the Big East one) only bolsters Allen’s argument. If the school had barred other athletes for other reasons, then its move with Allen would have been part of an established policy.Instead, this appears to be an arbitrary move. Furthermore, when pressed yesterday to say who was at risk to bolt to Petrino if the “floodgates” were open, U of L could produce only one player. One. And maybe that’s one too many, but is it enough to block a potential opportunity for an athlete who played well for you for two years?When basketball player Jonathan Huffman left U of L for Iona (and former assistant Kevin Willard) he not only did so with the school’s approval and permission but with its blessing.An academic institution should not be basing its student-athlete transfer policy on whether it likes the coach the student-athlete wants to transfer to. In fact, I don’t think athletes should be required to get releases from schools at all, but that’s a bigger issue.U of L athletic director Tom Jurich has always had the admirable policy of not including buyouts in his coaches contracts. He doesn’t prohibit any of them from talking to any other schools. If a coach doesn’t want to be at U of L, he finds one that does, and most often a better one.I think it’s perfectly legitimate to question why student-athletes — who earn no salary and in fact are held on one-year renewable scholarships that are not guaranteed — can’t be afforded the same courtesy as their coaches.

  8. Very fair points, Eric. I appreciate your replies.”Instead, this appears to be an arbitrary move. Furthermore, when pressed yesterday to say who was at risk to bolt to Petrino if the “floodgates” were open, U of L could produce only one player. One. And maybe that’s one too many, but is it enough to block a potential opportunity for an athlete who played well for you for two years?”I think part of UofL’s stance (I’m just guessing here) is that if the Allen transfer were OK’d, it would be seen as a blessing to Petrino and any player who might have been thinking about it. Is it unrealistic to believe there have not been more _because_ of UofL barring Allen?”When basketball player Jonathan Huffman left U of L for Iona (and former assistant Kevin Willard) he not only did so with the school’s approval and permission but with its blessing.”I doubt UofL or Pitino see any danger of other players wanting to transfer to Iona. I think you have to agree that Arkansas’ attractiveness to a football player is on a different plane than Iona’s attractiveness to a basketball player.All of this could probably come to a screeching halt if Arkansas’ AD made a statement (we know we couldn’t trust a statement from BP)that they are in fact interested in AA, but as a matter of policy would not be open to any other UofL transfers. If that happened, I don’t doubt TJ would rescind the ban.I would be interested to hear Arkansas’ position on all of this. I think their silence, while not incriminiting, is certainly curious.

  9. Any comment from Arkansas would be in violation of NCAA rules — unless they announced that they had no interest in recruiting him.I do agree with you that U of L was sending a message by not granting Allen permission to speak with Petrino. And my assumption — and one reason I didn’t write about this earlier — was that they accomplished that mission when everybody showed up for the spring semester. I’m actually surprised they didn’t back off after that.From a legal standpoint, I’d think, if you let Huffman go to a former coach, you’d have to let Allen go. How good the player is or how much of a “threat” the other program is are of less consideration. This is about applying policies fairly.The notion that there would be a mass exodus to Petrino just doesn’t seem legitimate to me. When John L. Smith left, there was no mass exodus to him. Though there was something of an exodus. If you didn’t want to be at U of L under Petrino, you usually weren’t there long. I remember one walk-on who told Petrino he wanted to quit to focus on studies, only to have Petrino rip into him — and also into his parents.

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