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Hoopsters send a letter to the president; Ashley, Ashley

In the wake of the coaching staff's firing Friday, several men's basketball players have asked for release from their scholarships and have been denied by the school -- for the moment. Players have appealed via e-mailed letter to a higher FIU power, FIU President Mark Rosenberg, and some hope to get their release by the end of the week after meetings with FIU staffers.

According to a source close to FIU, a school asking about one of the players was told in an e-mail by FIU that it was against athletic department policy to release players from scholarships during a coaching search.

One player I spoke to today said some players wanted to meet whomever the new coach will be, but desired their release just to keep their options open.

Joey de La Rosa, on the other hand, said he's transferring because, "Coach Thomas was my guy, loyalty is the key" at the start of a passionate defense of the coaching staff that focused mostly on the way the staff influenced kids off the court. Sophomore forward Dominique Ferguson also said this would be his last semester at FIU.

Sources say starting guard Phil Taylor also has asked for his release.

"I'm sure they feel like they had the rug pulled out from under them," Thomas said Wednesday night. "I'm sure whereever they go, they'll be assets to their school. I'm deeply humbled. I love those guys."

Thomas also said, "The unity and commitment they've shown each other in this tough time only strengthens my belief that next year was going to be a great year for us."

Whether or not that's accurate, expect those committed for next year, including Chicago's Milton Doyle, to head elsewhere.The next coach could come in with a stripped down roster and taking the table scraps in recruiting.

This is the full text of a letter sent to FIU Presdent Rosenberg:

Dear President Rosenberg, FIU Administrators, Faculty, Staff and Media:

We are writing this letter in regards to a few concerns we have surrounding the firing of our coach, Isiah Thomas, and his staff. First, we would like to explain that on Monday night at the Sports Banquet, we meant no disrespect to our university or anyone in attendance, but only wished to exercise our human right to protest and support our coach and mentors in a time of grief. Our staff taught us five values -- Honesty, Loyalty, Belief, Sacrifice and Trust -- so I am sure you can see that our “silent protest” stems from these excellent principles.

Our main concerns that we wish someone to address include why Coach Thomas and his staff were fired and why it was done in such an ugly fashion? Nobody in this university has sat down and given a thorough explanation as to why they were dismissed. This is very troubling because even though we are athletes we are still humans and have rights which should be respected. What is confusing is if Coach Thomas was fired for losing games, he is not alone in fault because we were the ones playing the games. He was given five years to fix an existing problem, and then it was cut to three. The team he had coming in next year was young but by far his best class. Neither he nor we got the opportunity to finish what we started and have no explanation as to why our goal was cut short by this university.

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, with no explanation of what was going on in front of our team and other FIU staff members. It was quite embarrassing for us to witness and hurtful. They deserved a better way to leave. It is already embarrassing being fired.

 We would like everyone to know that we came to FIU not only to gain an education and play basketball but also to be mentored by Coach Thomas. This is why we are extremely upset about his firing; we lost not a coach but a mentor. Maybe you are not knowledgeable of the many things that Coach Thomas has done in helping develop us as young men. These things don’t show up on the scoreboard at FIU but do show up on the scoreboard of life. There are too many to discuss but we will mention to you one of the most important ones he did and that you can investigate.

 Please contact the writers of a book Coach Thomas suggested we read, “Out of Bounds, When Scholarship Athletes become Academic Scholars” by Dr. Jabari Mohair and Dr. Derek Van Rheenen from UC Berkeley. Not only did Coach Thomas tell us about this book but on multiple occasions he brought these authors to FIU to lead academic workshops which stimulated our minds and helped us to understand what it is to be a true scholar athlete. These workshops were also attended by FIU faculty and students who were not athletes. Even NBA All Star Amare Stoudemire sat in the workshops which lasted over a weekend. But, more amazing is that not only did Coach Thomas and his staff participate in the workshops but Coach Thomas has led by example by taking classes in sports and education with the professors via Skype. He also was admitted into the MA program at Berkeley in the School of Education. He was not only telling us to go to class but served as a role model by being a student himself. Please reach out and ask these professors about our team and coach and how education and mentoring was the focal point of his short tenure, not winning on the court but in changing lives. Coach would tell us that “our record may be losing on the court, but that will change in time but our graduation rate is 17-2 which is more important”. This is the Isiah we know and love not the one which the media attempts to destroy. If they brought their cameras and notepads into these workshops they may find it beneficial to report on how sports should be used to build character not destroy it.

Lastly, the AD of FIU told us only that Coach Thomas was fired because “we are going in another direction,” and we respect his decision even though we disagree with it. Every human has a right for “freedom of choice” which is a given not a privilege. We chose to come to FIU for at least 5 years to be mentored, play basketball and enjoy college life. FIU has given us a great opportunity and is a fine university. We have appreciated our time here.

Yet, some of us have asked to be released from the school and have been rejected by the AD. We ask that with our mentor being fired you to give us the freedom of choice to “move in another direction.” 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. America has many fine universities to choose from, and we only wish to have the option of staying here or finding a place which has a coach that will continue in the same tradition as Coach Thomas. Even if FIU was to hire another ex- NBA coach that would not change our feelings about leaving because we did not come here thinking Isiah Thomas was going to take us to the NBA. But the person of Isiah Thomas as a mentor is what was important in our decision.

In one of our meetings with the Professors we learned that “when an athletic department uses players as commodities it loses its moral leadership”. We hope that this school sees us not as “bodies” but “minds” which can grow develop and become productive citizens of the world.

 

Thank you

FIU men’s Basketball Team

Athletic director Pete Garcia hasn't responded to calls or text messages the last few days, blowing up the basketball coaching staff then going underground like the athletic director of The Weathermen. Which brings to mind the first rap song...

 

 SOFTBALL

All of the above overshadowns FIU senior Ashley McClain being named one of the 25 finalists for this year's USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year.

McClain's hitting .419 with a .667 slugging percentage. She leads the team with nine doubles, five home runs, 29 RBI and a .534 on-base percentage that's 12th in the nation. She's one home run from tying the school record for career homers.

FIU dealt No. 6-ranked Louisiana-Lafayette only its second loss of the season Tuesday before being shut out Wednesday.

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Pete Garcia is bottom feeding low rent trash. Dignity has no price and to rob Coach Thomas and his assitants of their dignity demonstrates what a dispicable human being Garcia is. Having the police escort them of campus like they were criminals is a joke.

He needs to give the players theiur release. If they dont want to play for FIU then why would FIU force them to stay on the team? If Garcia wanted to leave for another job would FIU for him to stay. Grow up Garcia and act like a responsible adult.

I can't believe a decent man like Dr. Mark Rosenberg would keep a low life life Pete Garcia as an AD. Mark you had morals what happened?

If I was playing at FIU, I would be glad that Thomas is gone.

MarkdaLark, Thomas has no dignity.

I won't argue whether or not Thomas should have been replaced. That's up to the school. However Low Rent Pete should have gone about it differently and more diplomatically. He should also give the players that want their release.

I support Pete Garcia 100%! Pete is a stand up guy who wants to build a winning tradition. Hey basketball team...it's not about you, it's about the university. .

By the way, Don Shula and Tom Landry were great coaches as well, but when it was time it was time.

Excellent blog. That's exactly what I was looking for.

I will not be giving any money to FIU. The leadership at FIU needs to be fired !!

Great move by the players.

Damn! Pete sent those guys out like they do in the NFL. Security please escort these guys off our campus. D@mn!!! The kids will be release from their ships. Trust me, the NCAA will make FIU release them. It's not a good look for FIU and this will hurt them big time in recruiting.

Funny, how it appears the no. 17 ranked PF coming out if high school (Domique Fergusson) had allegedly asked for his release before the firing of IT. It seames like he walked out first.
Funny how Erick Fedrick walked out before the season and played Junior college in his final year of eligibility.
Funny how Richaud Pack left the team aftet nine games and went on to be a star in D-II this season.
Funny how the 41st ranked Center in Joey Dela Rosa did not qualify academically until December and went on to play 110 minutes and 1.4 ppg.
Funny how Wright (Flight 14) a senior out of eligibility is so outspoken.
They will be granted their release after a new coach is hired and talks to them about remaining. Isiah him self held Freddy Aspirilla to the same thing. Its standard practice.

Mentor? And next year? You had no returning seniors and a sum of 50 ppg with departure of Wright and Allen. 6 wins was the over under for 2013!
PG blew it in the handling of it, but IT earned his fate.

PG is no saint so what neither are any of the players and coaches involved.

I can see Isiah telling Pete Garcia his BOSS: "I'm hall of famer Isaih '$%&#%&' Thomas!"

Yeah you are...and you FAILED!

chiaPanther...you have no clue what you are talking about. I read your comments and i wonder if you ever played basketball, or sports for that matter.

Let me correct some of the things you have stated with facts.

First off, Isiah released Eric Fredrick because he wasnt going to class!! Education is first, then athletics .

Second, Ricahud Pack went to a DIII school, NOT A DII. And i would hope he would avg over 14ppg their, he is a DI player!! if he didnt, i would be disappointed. Richaud left because he wasnt getting the playing time he wanted. He had other players ahead of him that were more experienced,and better athletes....any fan can see that.

And the thing about Joey De La Rosa is crazy.... the kid comes in at december and is out of shape. he needed time to get in the flow of things and get used to college.takes time man. now his reason for coming here left, so of course he wants his release.

Freddy was held by PG, not Isiah. hmmmm funny how the same thing is happening to these kids now. department policy..way to go Pete. Isiah wanted Freddy to stay, of course he was a good player. But just like Freddy, his coach got fired and wanted to leave. But in the end it was Isiah that asked Pete to release him. If the kid doesnt want to be here, let them go. It is standard practice for a majority of the 340 + NCAA Div. I universities.

take a look at the commitments from the 12 and 13 classes...they were good. all down the drain now.

get your facts straight before you start making assumptions chipanther.

Well said chiaPanther. If Thomas was so committed to FIU then why was he working for the Knicks as a consultant on the side while coaching FIU after only his first year (until the NBA shut that arrangement down)? That showed a total lack of commitment and respect for FIU and its players.

Players leave coaches and coaches leave players all the time, every day of the year. It's part of the game. Scholarships are really nothing more than one-year contracts when you break it down. I support Pete Garcia and his decision. If I were him, I'd be happy to give those players their release.

TOLD YOU ALL that AD PETE GARCIA IS A SCUMBAG!

Now, he's refusing to release these players...someone needs to fire Garcia...what a parasite he is!!

Funny how chiaPanther changed his tune on Thomas the second he was fired.

'Ok.. Two cents on IT, it goes to show that maybe (just maybe) he took the bullet for the Knicks....
More importantly he's brought us the most talent we have ever had... and more hope than when Shaky was here... He's not like Clyde tanking at the University of Houston... Isaih is the Man!!'

Lol...
@Really? Excellent... I have no issues with that. What you failed to post is the date.
If you are going to bring up quotes, bring up the date!

Yeah, I absolutely thought Isiah was going to succeed and make FIU better...atleast I did LAST YEAR, before the team regressed, before the team went from 11 wins to 8 wins. From 71.7 ppg to 63.3 ppg.

I was fooled too like his players, thinking he was good. Giving him support. And read my comment again;
Brought more talent to FIU ever...FACT #17 PF in Ferg; No. 41 Center in Joey; Phil Taylor; Richaud Pack; 7-0' in Gilles; National 3-point contestent in Wozniack.

Yeah, I'll continue to stand by my statement....Most talent ever at FIU (and I was there for the Raja & Arroyo years). Most hope based on recruiting since Shakey.

Hell yeah I was excited. All proof that IT FAILED!
That staement wasnt a week before IT was fired. Its not like Ferg upset at the firing asking for a release in schollie while he had asked for transfer a week or two before IT got canned.

I dare you to find anything resent of me suporting IT! Not happening, he failed! I HAD BOUGHT all his excuses like Taylor and Ferg coming late the previous year...well, they were there this whole year and they regressed.

I got suckered by a Used car salesman...the same way all his recruits did. But I stopped support when he lost to Oral Roberts, Georgia State, Texas Wesleyan and Arkansas Pine Buff...he was 10-22 against his peers in the Sunbelt.

chia panther is a scumbag wannabe who flip flop more than Mitt Romney..get lost clown

@true fan,

“chiaPanther...you have no clue what you are talking about. I read your comments and i wonder if you ever played basketball, or sports for that matter. Let me correct some of the things you have stated with facts.”
That’s a great way to start a conversation; by attacking the person.
These are your FACTS:
On Erick Fedrick:
PROVE IT: student-school records are confidential so unless you can prove it, this is YOUR ASSUMPTION
ON Richaud Pack:
Ok. My mistake he did transfer to a DIII not DII school. But the rest is again YOUR ASSUMPTION.
ON Joey De La Rosa:
This is the exact same LIE we heard about Dominique Fergusson when he and Taylor both failed to qualify until December. THE EXACT SAME BS, I bought it once! But I won’t buy it TWICE.
Fergusson was out of shape and needed to learn the College Game and average 7.1 ppg in his first ½ season. And had an AMAZING performance last season with a full year of prep and tutelage under Isaih and his staff.. NOT! Ferg average 8.7 ppg, for the #17 PF in the country in the WORST basketball conference in NCAA. When Georgia State enters the conference next season, they WILL OWN the sunbelt! It’s no wonder that Ferg is alleged to of asked for his release BEFORE Isiah got Fired!
ON FREDDY:
Freddy was given his release only after Isiah failed to keep him here. And the current group of players will also be released once a coach is hired and HE makes the decision.
ON the Commitments:
I looked at 2012 and 2013, a bunch of verbals… but nothing like the previous two classes.
Inclosing, you offered YOUR ASSUMPTIONS as FACTS. You also failed to address Ferg asking for transfer prior to IT getting fired. Failed to address why chicago native D. Wright who is no longer part of the team due to graduation is so outspoken. May have written the letter and is the son of a child hood friend of Isiah Thomas.
I get it, the players are hurt. You may even be a player for all I know…. But the ONLY True FACT is that FIU was 26-65 under IT, he went 10-22 against his peers (SUNBELT TEAMS), and had obviously recruited well. He said in his exit that next year was the year; I heard that last year too (and believed it) once! Next year’s team returned NO SENIORS (of influence)… HOW was this TEAM going to improve….

LMAO, yeah it's not like the basketball players are not writing in this blog. Who cares, Isiah Thomas was not a good coach, the team was no good, and basketball at FIU is no good. In my opinion who cares and good ridance. You players leaving the program is not going to change anything. It's not like we were going to the NIT.

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