Louisiana-Lafayette head women's coach Garry Brodhead, then an assistant at McNeese State, stands next to Cowgirls head coach Brooks Donald Williams during a game against Wiley College on Jan. 3. (Karen Wink / American Press)
Last Modified: Wednesday, May 09, 2012 7:35 PM
In the often classless world of college sports, Garry Brodhead pulled off a very classy act.
The head women’s basketball coach at the Louisiana-Lafayette gave power back to a high school senior.
Brodhead, a former assistant at McNeese State, is trying to bring the Ragin’ Cajun women’s program back from the dead. It won’t be easy.
Heading into his first year, he will need all the talent he can get. Good sportsmanship points won’t produce many wins.
Yet Brodman and ULL officials decided to do the right thing.
They released star recruit Allison Baggett from her written commitment to play for the school next fall, allowing her to take a scholarship with rival McNeese instead.
Baggett wanted to play with her twin sisters in their final season at McNeese, making a family reunion on the court. Brodhead made it easy.
By letting the youngest Baggett out of her original commitment, Brodman cleared the way to an easy transition. He didn’t have to do it.
“There was no hesitation at all,” Brodhead said of his decision. “I thought it was in the best interest of Allison and her family.”
While Baggett could have appealed, and always could have sat out a year by transferring, Brodhead made it easy for all parties.
No hassle, no fights, just a clean break and the right move.
“I’m about what is in the best interest of the kids,” Brodhead said. “I made the decision and my athletic director backed me up.”
That seems so simple but is not always the case.
Yes, while Baggett did make her commitment to the old coaching staff in Lafayette, that doesn’t always mean much in college sports.
When Isiah Thomas and Florida International parted ways at the end of last season, freshman Dominque Ferguson asked to look around for a new school. He didn’t want to play for new coach Richard Pitino, saying he went to the school because of Thomas.
FIU, hardly a basketball power, said no and Ferguson was essentially bared from playing next year at any other Division I school. So he has announced he will go to the NBA draft, ready or not.
Here’s a kid wanting to stay in school yet an institution built just for that purpose instead is telling the world basketball is far more important than a young man’s future, or even his given right to decide that future.
It happens at big schools, too.
Just a few weeks ago, Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan limited redshirt freshman Jarrod Uthoff’s transfer options. This despite taking a transfer student from another Big Ten team before himself.
Public pressure helped change the decision by Wisconsin officials during an appeals process and Uthoff was allowed to transfer anywhere but within the conference.
Still, it was messy.
It should not come down to this.
College coaches and their bosses make such decisions all the time. Coaches break contracts and move on to other schools at the same rate administrators fire them with little regard to the good of the players. It’s an unfair system.
By doing such things, university officials say that the adults are allowed to make mistakes, opt for change, get out of bad situations with little if any consequences but the 19- and 20-year-olds they vowed to teach and protect are held to a much higher standard.
All this while millions of dollars change hands and the players get just enough to survive.
Instead of inciting a turf war with his future boss, he gave Baggett back the power to decide what is best for her.
In the vast ocean of college sports this is just a small ripple reaching the beach, but maybe it could start a wave of change.
Jim Gazzolo is managing sports editor. Email him at email@example.com
Posted By: Class of 69 On: 5/10/2012
Title: A class Act
Thank you Coach Brodhead for your decision and also to his university. You have a winner Lafayette!