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Bo Ryan: Wisconsin's Change of Heart Doesn't Eliminate Transfer Problem

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 10:  Head coach Bo Ryan of the Wisconsin Badgers reacts as he coaches against the Michigan State Spartans during their Semifinal game of the 2012 Big Ten Men's Basketball Conference Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 10, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Zachary D. RymerMLB Lead WriterApril 19, 2012

Wisconsin Badgers head basketball coach Bo Ryan came off as quite the villain when he talked about Jarrod Uthoff on ESPN's Mike and Mike in the Morning radio show on Thursday morning.

Ryan, of course, got himself in hot water by restricting Uthoff's options after he had decided to transfer out of Wisconsin. He defended himself by saying that he wasn't doing anything out of the ordinary. 

Via Yahoo! Sports:

After years and years and decades of coaches doing this same thing way before me and coaches who have had larger lists, you're not going after them, you're not making a big deal of other situations. It has become an attack on a particular institution when over the years, 300 and something institutions have done the same thing. All I'm asking is for fairness.

Translation: It's okay because everyone else does it. This is how this particular game is played.

The public wasn't sold, and the pressure apparently got a little too intense for Ryan and Wisconsin's decision-makers. ESPN's Andy Katz passed along the latest news on Twitter:

Wisconsin met with Jarrod Uthoff and has announced that all transfer restrictions have been lifted except for Big Ten schools.

— Andy Katz (@ESPNAndyKatz) April 19, 2012

Coincidence? Nope. This is a case of Wisconsin succumbing to public outrage.

According to a full report on the situation from ESPN.com, Uthoff's former AAU coach claimed that Uthoff had submitted a list of 25 different schools only to see Wisconsin deny half of them. The university claims Uthoff requested "permission to contact" 16 different schools, not 25. 

Regardless of the exact number, it was reported by CBSSports.com that Ryan had blocked Uthoff from transferring to any ACC school, Marquette and Iowa State, as well as all Big Ten schools. He effectively tried to bar Uthoff from having a future at several very good basketball programs.

Unfortunately, Ryan has a point when he says that he did something that numerous other coaches before him have done. His mistake was taking it too far. His next mistake was pleading for fairness like a child who had been sent to the principal's office.

Fairness? You want fairness, Mr. Ryan? Then let this kid go wherever he pleases instead of trying to serve your and Wisconsin's best interests. 

Such was the outcry, and it was clearly heard in Madison. The partial removal of Uthoff's transfer restrictions is Wisconsin's white flag.

Great. Wonderful. But sadly, this is a mere battle that has been won. Just because Wisconsin decided to change its stance does not mean that the system that Ryan hinted at is going to follow suit. As long as coaches can block their players from going to certain schools, they will. Or, at least, they'll give it a shot, as Ryan did.

We're not talking about superstar players trying to force their way out of town onto a team and into a city more to their liking—a problem that the NBA suddenly finds itself having to deal with. In a situation like the Uthoff situation, millions of dollars are not at risk, and the situation should be no different from that of a regular student transferring schools.

Because, at the end of the day, we are indeed talking about students, right? Students should be able to learn where they please, and student-athletes should be able to play where they please. 

Granted, I can understand the desire to keep student-athletes from transferring within the conference, and it's something that I for one can live with. But the way in which Ryan tried to block Uthoff from going to schools with no conference ties to Wisconsin was utterly absurd. He was trying to punish Uthoff by banishing from his sight altogether.

Ryan basically got mad, and then he got megalomaniacal. 

He reacted like he did because he could. If the public hadn't gotten wind of the situation, nobody outside of Uthoff and his camp would have complained.


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