Kansas State granted a release to women’s basketball player Leticia Romero on Tuesday after amending its transfer policy, ending an embarrassing spat that had generated national attention.
Romero will be allowed to transfer to any school outside the Big 12 after the K-State Athletics Board of Directors approved the policy change.
Romero, who led the Wildcats in scoring as a freshman, had been seeking to transfer after coach Deb Patterson was fired. The school denied her request amid concerns that members of the previous staff were trying to persuade her to follow them to another school.
An appeals committee upheld the decision, and pundits ranging from Dick Vitale to fellow college basketball analyst Jay Bilas took to Twitter in Romero’s support.
Making the situation even more embarrassing was the fact that Kansas State president Kirk Schulz is a member of the NCAA executive committee, which has come under fire in recent years for a range of issues that include the policies governing when and where athletes may transfer.
In a letter to Schulz, Kansas State athletic director John Currie recommended on Monday the change to the school’s transfer policy. The resulting provision gives the athletic director power to retract a denial of a release if new information becomes available.
The policy change came less than a week after a separate, confidential letter from Currie to university administrator Pat Bosco surfaced. In it, Currie said he had spoken at length with Romero about tampering concerns and "she was direct that this was not the case." Romero also told him that she would not be transferring to Northern Colorado, the school where Patterson and former assistants Kamie Ethridge, Kelly Moylan and Shalee Lehning had been hired.
Kansas State proved to be inflexible, though. In a statement last Wednesday, school vice president Jeffrey Morris maintained the appeals committee’s ruling was "final and binding, and there is no university procedure to re-examine one of those decisions."
Romero had retained Alabama attorney Donald Jackson to represent her in the case.
Kansas State’s policy states that "except for the most compelling of circumstances, which place an undue burden on the student athlete, it is the policy of the department of intercollegiate athletics not to grant a release for the purposes of a transfer."
Yet, just in the last few years, Kansas State has approved multiple transfers. Point guard Angel Rodriguez secured his release prior to last season and wound up at Miami, while quarterback Daniel Sams secured a release to transfer closer to his home in Louisiana.
Until she was granted a release, Romero was barred from receiving a scholarship at another Division I university for a year and prohibited from having any contact with another coach. Now, she will be able to receive financial aid immediately, though she will still have to sit out a season under NCAA transfer guidelines if she ends up at another Division I school.
Leticia Romero sought a transfer after Wildcats coach Deb Patterson (center) was fired.