Skip navigation
Sign up to follow your favorites on all your devices.
Sign up

FIU players back their coach, ask for release in letter to the administration


FILE - In this Oct. 8, 2011 photo, FIU basketball coach Isiah Thomas speaks during the South Florida All Star Classic basketball game in Miami. Florida International has fired men’s basketball coach Isiah Thomas, after the Hall of Fame player went 26-65 in three seasons. Thomas took over at FIU in a surprising move in 2009, one that gave the former New York Knicks coach and president a chance to restore the reputation he tarnished through a series of embarrassments in New York. Under Thomas, FIU never won more than 11 games in a season. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)


Last week, Isiah Thomas was fired after three years and a 26-65 record at Florida International.

It was a move that received plenty of attention and was the punch line of plenty of jokes across the blogosphere. With everything that Thomas has been through in his career you wouldn’t expect any less from the cretins of the interwebs. I certainly cannot claim innocence.

And while Thomas brought much of the ridicule on himself, there is one thing that cannot be denied -- Thomas certainly had a connection with the players that he brought to FIU.

First, it was Dominique Ferguson taking to twitter to stick up for his coach. Next, the members of the basketball team walked out of their athletics banquet in an act of protest. And now? Those players wrote a letter to the FIU administration, including the University president.

“We also ask someone to look into why Coach Thomas and his staff had to be humiliated by being told they were fired and to pack their belongings immediately and with no explanation of what was going on in front of our team and other FIU staff members,” the letter said. “It was quite embarrassing for us to witness and hurtful, they deserved a better way to leave, it is already embarrassing being fired.”

That wasn’t the sole point of the letter, however.

Apparently, members of the team are also having trouble getting their releases to transfer to another institution.

“We ask that under such circumstances with our mentor being fired you to give us the freedom of choice to `move in another direction,”’ said the letter, which carried the signature “FIU men’s basketball team” and was e-mailed to Rosenberg and others by DeJuan Wright, who led the Panthers in scoring this past season. “Please help us receive our athletic `releases’ so that we can find a coach and program which will be a good fit in our growth.”

The letter continues that while the players still believe FIU is “a fine university,” they chose the school so they could play for Thomas.

You don’t need me to tell you that the rule allowing coaches can be hired and fired without any punishment while players can get held hostage by their previous institution is wrong and unjust. We’ve been down that road. It is a rule that needs to be changed.

Do the right thing, FIU.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.