Every coach knows the code. If a player asks to be released from his team and his scholarship, you do it. As a coach, you have control over a lot of aspects of your players' lives from the time they step on campus until the time they graduate or leave for one reason or another. Leaving is the key component, though. Whenever that comes, that's on the player to decide, so long as he's not violating team rules, under-performing or acting delinquently.
Dictating whether a player has to stay at the school is one of the few areas where said player should hold the power.
Rotnei Clarke repeatedly asked for, and was not given, his official release from Arkansas by new coach Mike Anderson, according to Jeff Goodman's story. Clarke, the Razorbacks' leading scorer last season, attended Arkansas because John Pelphrey recruited him there a few years ago. He doesn't jell with Anderson's rip-and-run system.
Clarke is not a rogue defector, either. Jeff Peterson was allowed to sign paperwork that enabled him to transfer to another school. Glenn Bryant also wanted -- and got -- his transfer from the program. There's something about Anderson and his system that a lot of in-house guys don't like. We're talking to seniors that are leaving to get one more year in of hoops at a place where they think they'll get more out of themselves than Anderson's way at Arkansas. All transfers will have to sit out and wait until the 2012-13 season to play.
Clarke, one of the best shooters in college basketball, originally tried to leave before Bryant did but was asked to sleep on it -- for two months. He still wants out. It's his right to leave. There is no pre-existing relationship to patch up; only a fractured, once-polite philosophical disagreement between star player and incoming coach.
Why is Anderson being so stubborn and thinking he can keep a kid on campus who won't be happy there? What coach wants to bring that dynamic into his locker room after dragging it along in the offseason?
Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long is on the hook here, too; he has the power to grant Clarke his release and supersede Anderson. He's sided with his new coach, as both men are hoping Clarke succumbs to the college basketball equivalent of Stockholm Syndrome, something that has happened with teams before. Rarely are player and program better for it.
Anderson has no real excuse here. The reason for Clarke wanting to leave is irrelevant. If he wants out -- and his father is in full support of this move, too -- then he should be let out. This blog post shouldn't be happening. Mike Anderson, give up the Clarke ghost. The new Hogs coach should be thrilled that Pelphrey's impressive 2011 class remained on board when he got the job in March. He somehow convinced all the freshmen to stay, according to Goodman's story.
That reflects badly already on Anderson, a successful coach in his five season at Missouri and four seasons before that at UAB. Winning cures so much, but Anderson hasn't done that yet at Arkansas. This kind of behavior, not letting kids get their transfer, or making it very tough to do so, gets around. Recruits, coaches, AAU guys ... they talk. If Arkansas and Anderson want to build a successful, long-term model, they can't prevent the team's best player from leaving.
Clarke, according to sources, isn't the only one Anderson hasn't allowed to explore other opportunities.
Two members of Arkansas' highly regarded recruiting class -- which was assembled by former coach John Pelphrey and his coaching staff -- both asked Anderson for their release.
As much as it stings now, they'll be better for it in the long run if they let Clarke leave.