Former Kansas State point guard Leticia Romero has been granted her release.
Announced Tuesday morning, K-State modified institutional policy that prohibited the decision of a campus appeals committee to be overturned, giving sole discretion to the athletic director to review all denial rulings.
Romero, who led the Wildcats in scoring (14.2), rebounds (5.8) and assists (4.9) per game last season as a freshman, will now be allowed to transfer and be eligible for scholarship aid at any institution, with the exception of Big 12 schools.
“I’m thrilled for Leticia — this is what she deserved all along,” Romero’s attorney Donald Jackson said Tuesday morning. “I think Kansas State made the right decision and we’re thrilled about it. Sometimes things like this take a little time, but I congratulate the athletic director and the board at K-State on the decision they made.
“The next step for Leticia would be start to fielding communications from other universities and make a decision over the course of the next few weeks or month.”
Romero, who will celebrate her 19th birthday on Wednesday, said she has no timetable for her decision. She’s due to leave for Spain on Friday to fulfill obligations with national teams this summer.
“I’m going to be looking for the same things I was looking for last year,” Romero said in a phone interview Tuesday. “I want to find good people, a good program and a place where I know I’ll get better. Right now it’s all about getting to know schools and going to a place that wants me.”
Last summer, K-State was among three schools she had narrowed down from a list of more than 60 offers — the other two were Virginia Tech and Florida State.
“I haven’t thought about any schools yet,” Romero said. “I’m still thinking, ‘wow, I got the release.’ I didn’t think it was going to happen. I haven’t had time to think about what I’m going to do next. Today will be a day of relaxing and enjoying the news. Then, (Wednesday), I’ll start to think about the next step. I don’t have a lot of time — it’s already the end of May — but I’ll know where I’m going before August.”
Tuesday’s decision effectively ends a battle between Romero and K-State that has lasted more than two months, following the dismissal of former head coach Deb Patterson in early March. From Las Palmas, Spain, Romero’s first request for a release was denied by K-State athletic director John Currie and then upheld by an appeals committee in mid April, a decision that was considered “final and binding” under K-State policy at the time.
Currie wrote in a letter to K-State president Kirk Schulz — sent on Monday —asking that the additional step of an AD’s review be added to the existing transfer process.
The university’s policy came under fire last week after a letter Currie wrote to K-State vice president of student life and appeals committee leader Pat Bosco was uncovered, asking that the committee reconvene to reconsider its decision based on new information he obtained from a visit with Romero that indicated no tampering had taken place, which the basis for the original denials of release.
“Recent events have revealed inflexibility in the process with regards to the ability for the athletic director to retract a denial of a release if new information relevant to the original denial becomes relevant,” Currie wrote to Schulz.
The KSA Board of Directors met Tuesday morning to approve the amended recommendation, along with updated language to the athletic department’s transfer release policy.
The athletic director’s review provision states that, “If the Appeals Committee decides that the requested release is not justified, the Director of Athletics may, in his sole discretion and within 15 business days of the Appeals Committee’s decision, begin a process to review new information to determine whether the requested release is justified.
“If this review is initiated within 15 business days, then the Director of Athletics’ decision (which shall be made in writing) is final. Decisions by the Appeals Committee to approve a student-athlete’s appeal and grant a student-athlete release are final and will not be subject to this review.”