Southeast Missouri Dismisses Two Players

Both Ladarius Coleman and Marcus Wallace Jr. have been dismissed by the SeMo basketball program.

College basketball is a sport, a wonderful sport, but at the end of their eligibility most OVC players will move on to a career outside their sport of choice.

Like the NCAA loves to tout, “just about all of us are going pro in something other than sports.”

Sobering.  But also hopeful.  So, when a college coach dismisses two players mid-season like Southeast Missouri State University Head Coach Rick Ray did Friday he is potentially ending two roads.

Ladarius Coleman told Southeast Missourian Writer Erin Unerstall, “That’s what upset me the most,” Coleman said. “He just decided to change my life, and I could’ve been the one that made that choice. I could’ve made it earlier and gotten my sophomore year back, but that’s gone now and I’ve just got to face that fact. That’s what’s messed up the most.”

The road to success in an athlete’s sport of choice, which is admittedly bleak for many, might have concluded for Coleman and Wallace.  More damaging is the very real chance that for two young men the pursuit of a college degree is ending too.

The full article by Erin Unerstall is excellent, and worth a read.

Ethical Obligations

There are two problems with this decision.

First, the timing.  When a player’s season ends midway, unless he suffers an injury, he is extremely unlikely to get that missed half-year back.  In fact, Coleman and Wallace have essentially lost 60% of this season and 40% of the next.  If Coleman lands at another D1, and does so with the hopes of playing next winter…he still has to sit out the first semester next fall.  In effect, he will lose the remains of this season and the entire fall portion of 2016-2017 on the basketball court.

Then, Coleman begins his sophomore year behind.  It is an arduous, clunky process.

But it can be done.  And some players have made it work.  Chris Harrison-Docks left Butler and is currently leaving his imprint on the WKU program.  Former Illinois player Kyle Wilson left in February of 2003, ultimately landing with Wichita State.  The Wichita State program you  know today was vaulted to relevance with Wilson and the fantastic 2006 Shockers.  If not for George Mason, they would have been the darlings of the dance.

Mid-season transfers can work, but both Harrison-Docks and Wilson elected to leave their programs.  Did Coleman?  Did Wallace?

Wallace Sr. claimed to Unerstall that his son was not given a choice, or an active participant in the dismissal process.

“Basically the staff just felt that he wasn’t a good fit for SEMO basketball’s new system or style of play and wanted to go in a different direction,” Marcus Wallace Sr. said to Unerstall and seMissourian.com.

“Obviously that’s their right to do, but that’s it. He’s an honor student, no disciplinary issues on or off the court, represented the school and us very well. We just wanted it known that he didn’t quit on his team, he didn’t abandon them. It’s just that they decided they wanted to go in a different direction.”

The Interim Athletic Director did acknowledge Sunday that Southeast Missouri dismissed the players.

“It’s never a good situation for anyone, but I feel like when you hire a basketball coach to come in and try and take a program to a place where we would like for it to go, we have to provide some flexibility for a coach to be able to do that,” Barke said to the seMissourian.com. “As long as conversations are had and people understand the reasons for it and the options and it’s done in a way that we honor our commitments from a scholarship standpoint and those types of things, we have to have a little bit of deference to the coach in terms of what’s going to be best for the program.”

The key words he used are “make sure we honor our commitments from a scholarship standpoint.”

Based on the story revealed to Unerstall so far, Southeast Missouri Athletic Department barely honored this commitment, and possibly nudged student-athletes out of a contract.

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