Don't Kill the Mellinger

Columnist Sam Mellinger's thoughts on sports and other important stuff

K-State’s bullying of Leticia Romero and, maybe, something positive to come from it

05/22/2014 9:56 AM

06/03/2014 6:43 PM

Kansas State has basically made an institutional decision to play the role of bully against the exact kind of unpaid student-athletes that the NCAA swears it protects.

That’s how this looks to anyone with a heart or a brain. Well, anyone with a heart or a brain who isn’t paid by K-State or otherwise blinded by loyalty, anyway.

There is just no benefit, now or in the future, for K-State to continue to bind women’s basketball player named Leticia Romero to a situation that nobody wants to maintain. Athletic director John Currie has seen the light, changing his mind on an issue that is painting KSU nationally as a power-blind tyrant.

But that shift has apparently come too late, because a K-State appeals committee has made a ruling it calls "final and binding" that the rest of the college sports world will see as "petty and moronic."

K-State’s initial stated concerns about tampering are both understandable and entirely irrelevant to the larger point. Put a clause in the release that Romero can’t transfer to a school that hires one of her former coaches. That could’ve been the plan from the beginning, and everyone would’ve had what they wanted.

It’s too late for that now. Even after Currie has changed his mind, K-State is unable or unwilling to override its own bureaucratic procedures to do the right thing.

So this apparently ends with Romero losing a fight she never had a chance to win in the first place, but as her story continues to make its way through the national conversation we can hope there is something positive out of it after all.

Because major NCAA reform is coming, and when it does, Romero’s experience will be held up as an example of the kind of unfair treatment toward student-athletes that must be stopped.

To reach Sam Mellinger, call 816-234-4365, send email to or follow For previous columns, go to

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