It was bad enough when Mark Dantonio, facing allegations of NCAA violations, and an underwhelming recruiting class, chose to simply retire, days after collecting a retention bonus, of course. He had already sat through the early recruiting period, and was just hours away from signing day, when he decided to simply abandon ship. Never mind all the kids, and parents he talked to during recruiting, who maybe signed during the early signing period, who may have even enrolled early at MSU, who were left with empty promises of who the head coach would be, and what sort of fit they were for his plan.
Nope, it’s gone. Sorry about that.
Now, though, it spreads.
Word out of East Lansing is that the Spartans have hired Mel Tucker, late head coach of Colorado, to be their new head coach.
Yes, Mel Tucker, who was brought in to rebuild and grow the Colorado football program, is leaving for more money just one year later. Again, after signing a recruiting class to come to Boulder and help with that program building. Now, he too, is gone and an entire freshmen class is stuck coming into an unknown situation, playing for a coach they don’t know, and weren’t recruited by.
Again, sorry about that.
Look, I’m a big believer in doing what you need to professionally to take care of yourself and your family. I don’t begrudge Dantonio for wanting to retire, or Tucker for taking more money. Good for them. What I begrudge is a system where coaches and everyone else involved has the freedom to do that, while the student athletes don’t. Where coaches routinely make these kinds of moves, all the while complaining about the transfer portal, or blocking kids who want to transfer and play right away.
Let’s compare this to real life. Imagine a scenario where you get recruited out of college to go to work for a company, you interview with the person who runs the place, who explains how she sees you fitting into the overall plan, where she is taking the company in the future, and you are seriously excited to signing up to be part of that plan. Then, just weeks, or days before you start, you find out the Board has fired that person and is going in a whole different direction now.
I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t immediately be looking for something different at that point, or at least be keeping their options open as the started with the company.
Why should student athletes not have that same freedom? Because the signed a contract that says they don’t? Well, they sign that contract because they have no other choice. If my hypothetical graduate signed a contract to go to work for that company, they might be out of luck, but they had the option of working somewhere else without a contract too. Try playing college football at the Division I level without signing an letter of intent.
Heck, I’ll go you one better, I’m at least willing to say they can’t transfer mid-season and start playing for their new team because of the academic calendar. With jobs, we totally have that freedom.
I see no reason these kids should not have a choice to find another place to play, immediately.