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K-State grants Leticia Romero release to transfer outside Big 12

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Tuesday, May 27, 2014, at 11:44 a.m.
  • Updated Monday, June 30, 2014, at 7:04 p.m.

— The transfer saga of Leticia Romero finally reached a resolution Tuesday.

Kansas State reversed course and granted Romero a release from her basketball scholarship. She is eligible to transfer to any school outside the Big 12 Conference and receive an athletic scholarship immediately. She will not be eligible to play until the 2015-16 season, per standard NCAA transfer rules.

It ended a transfer battle that made national headlines for more than a month.

“It’s awesome,” Romero said. “I didn’t really expect it, but it makes me happy.”

The university changed its stance, granting Romero a release as a result of a newly modified policy that allows athletic director John Currie the freedom to release student-athletes if new information or circumstances warrant the release.

The Kansas State Athletics Board of Directors adopted the new policy Tuesday morning. Currie pushed for the change in a letter to university president Kirk Schulz, in which he urged Schulz to make changes to K-State’s transfer policy.

He asked for a special review provision to be put in place for K-State’s athletic director.

It reads: “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.”

K-State retroactively applied the new rule to Romero, granting her a release.

K-State officials and an appeals committee initially denied Romero’s release over tampering concerns from its former women’s basketball coaching staff. The university vowed to uphold the ruling of that committee as recently as Wednesday.

Still, momentum began swinging Romero’s way last week when a letter from Currie to the appeals committee, dated May 5, surfaced in the media. In the letter, Currie urged the committee to reverse its ruling. The change of heart was due to new information he had learned after speaking with Romero. He was no longer concerned about tampering issues, and thought it was in the best interest of everyone involved to release Romero.

Romero will now shift her focus to finding a transfer destination. As of Tuesday afternoon, she had formally spoken to Middle Tennessee State, but she was already beginning to hear from others. When reached by phone, Romero said she was too busy planning her next move to speak at length about K-State’s transfer ruling.

Romero’s attorney, Donald Jackson of the Sports Group in Montgomery, Ala., said he was glad the dispute ended with a peaceful resolution.

“I am happy for the young lady,” Jackson said. “I am thrilled that Kansas State corrected this problem. Notwithstanding the fact that I was highly critical of the university for the way it has handled this this case, I am grateful they took the steps necessary to do what was right.”

Reach Kellis Robinett at krobinett@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @kellisrobinett.

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