According to the Kansas State student-athlete handbook, the decision of the appeals committee is final.
Yet, Wednesday it was learned K-State athletic director John Currie has attempted to reverse the committee’s decision to deny women’s basketball player Leti Romero from obtaining a release from her scholarship.
Romero, an All-Big 12 selection this past season for the Wildcats, met with the committee on April 16 and was denied her release shortly after. It was a decision that has left the Spanish point guard in limbo ever since — blocked from receiving a scholarship at another Division-I school for a year and prohibited from having any contact with another coach.
In a letter to K-State’s Vice President of Student Life and committee member Pat Bosco — dated May 5 — Currie said after gathering new information he believed it was in Romero’s best interest to be given a conditional release after all.
“The purpose of this letter is to provide additional information that I have gathered subsequent to the committee’s hearing with Leticia Romero on April, 16, 2014,” Currie wrote in the letter obtained by The Mercury. “Although it is unprecedented, I believe that is in the student-athlete’s best interest for the committee to reconvene to consider this new information and potentially approve her request for a conditional transfer release.”
Romero, who led the Wildcats in points (14.2), rebounds (5.8) and assists (4.9) per game last season as a freshman, has become the poster child for NCAA transfer issues of late, as her story has made national headlines seemingly every week since April. Today, Romero was featured on ESPN’s “Outside the Lines.”
Currie initially believed tampering had taken place with Romero — involving the former K-State coaching staff that was let go in March and former graduate assistant Xavier Lopez.
But since, former head coach Deb Patterson and assistants Kamie Ethridge, Shalee Lehning and Kelly Moylan have all accepted coaching positions at Northern Colorado.
In the letter to Bosco, Currie said he spoke with Romero regarding the alleged tampering concerns and was assured she would not be following any of the coaches to Northern Colorado.
“I asked Leticia directly if any of our former staff members had encouraged her to leave K-State,” Currie wrote. “She was direct that this was not the case.
“Additionally, I asked Leticia directly if she was aware of Xavier Lopez or anyone else ‘shopping’ her to other schools or offering to ‘deliver’ her in return for a coaching position for themselves. Leticia said emphatically ‘no’ to this question. Additionally, on her initiative, Leti said ‘Xavier is 99 percent going to Northern Colorado. Kelly, Coach P and all are going with Coach E.’
“Leticia said that she is not going to Northern Colorado and regarding former staff members, ‘I am not planning to go with any of them.’”
Another reason for Currie’s desire to now see Romero released is that new head coach Jeff Mittie indicated that it is his belief that it’s in the best interest of his program to see Romero move on.
“After several meetings with individual players, he believes that the current team does not want to play with Leticia anymore and thus would be in our current student-athletes’ best interests to grant her a conditional release.”
Romero recently retained Donald Jackson — an attorney from Montgomery, Ala. — to represent her in her fight for a release. Due to student privacy laws, K-State officials were unable to comment on the matter when reached by phone Wednesday.