MURPHY’S LAW: Justifying and Vilifying Pulled Scholarships

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When word hit that Iowa State’s Fred Hoiberg pulled the basketball scholarship from Indian Hills transfer Richard Amardi to make room for Marshall transfer DeAndre Kane, predictable (general) fan reaction followed. Cyclone fans justified. Hawkeye fans vilified.

Amardi himself reacted with the understanding of someone who knows he’ll play elsewhere. Amardi tweeted, “When one door closes another opens. Well in my case too many doors open.” Amardi also told the Des Moines Register’s Randy Peterson,When coach Hoiberg told me what was happening, at first I just paused. I didn’t know how to respond. After a few minutes, I was like ‘OK, we’ll just move on’... Me and Fred – we’ll continue to have a great relationship…”. No reason to doubt Amardi’s sincerity, or his smarts. Burning a bridge often hurts, and a recommendation from Hoiberg only helps.

A National Letter of Intent (NLI) can technically only be dissolved when both sides agree to part ways. It’s easier than you think. When a player knows he’s no longer wanted, he goes willingly.

I don’t like it.

Let me be clear. Hoiberg is not breaking any rules. He’s working the system to best help Iowa State win. Nearly all coaches do the same. Players largely accept the reality. It still stinks. A letter of intent shouldn’t be “unless someone better comes along”, even if that’s  disclosed. (Specific to this case, we must allow the possibility of something we don’t know.)

I like and respect Hoiberg. I’ve known him a long time. He’s a man of character. Fred’s also smart enough to know what fans want most: winning. Nothing else is a close second. This leads to subtle compromises and gradual shifts. The system allows it. The culture defends it. It’s no big deal. Well, unless it happens to you, or your kid.

I believe deep down Hoiberg, and other coaches, don’t like some of what they have to do in the big business pursuit of winning. But it’s 2013.  Amateur athletics is an oxymoron. The system uses kids, and kids use the system. No one complains. Until there’s too much losing.

-Keith Murphy

(p.s. In an effort to give credit, Travis Hines of the Ames Tribune wrote the first story I saw on Amardi’s scholarship being pulled.)