|Todd O'Brien, courtesy of Getty Images and daylife|
In an incredible piece of short-sighted behavior, St. Joseph's University, Pennsylvania has refused the request of a graduate student and basketball player, Todd O'Brien to transfer his final year of NCAA eligibility to the University of Alabama Birmingham where he is now attending school. After legal maneuvers and direct requests to the University failed, Mr. O'Brien sent an open letter to Sports Illustrated, a letter which was posted on their website today and was given a front page link on CNN.com.
Not only did the university refuse Mr. O'Brien's request, but the NCAA, who had the opportunity to rectify the situation, refused his appeal, so now O'Brien waits for someone to come to their senses. In the meantime, this story, which is sure to outrage normal people across the country (a simple Google search for "Todd O'Brien" turns up a number of articles on the topic already), will give St. Joseph's a black eye. When are people going to realize that they can't hide ridiculous behavior like this anymore?
I'm not saying that St. Joseph's is the only one in the wrong here - I'm sure that Mr. O'Brien's letter probably left out some material facts - but what could O'Brien possibly have done to warrant this kind of treatment? In my opinion - especially in this digital age when a story like this can (and certainly will) go viral in a matter of days, if not hours - organizations can't afford to make these mistakes. If I were a high school basketball player looking for a place to play, I can safely say that if this school were anywhere near the top of my choices before this story, after it, I'd be looking elsewhere.
Hopefully St. Joseph's, the NCAA, and universities across the country will learn a lesson from this mistake. By bringing this story to as many people as possible, hopefully we'll hit them all where it hurts - in the pocketbook - via declining enrollment and decreased alumni donations.