Softball: Column - UL softball fans worried about possible player transfers
Kevin Foote, The Advertiser, Nov. 8, 2017
The mess that is the UL Ragin’ Cajuns softball program these days leaves all of us with more questions than any of us could possibly have the answers for.
Whether you agree with the decision to fire Michael Lotief, it’s done.
So looking forward, the two big questions are: 1. Who will be the next coach and 2. How many of the current players will transfer to other schools?
In other words, will this continue to be a viable program as the annual clear-cut favorite in the Sun Belt Conference worthy of playing a schedule that includes home series against the likes of Florida and Minnesota in the foreseeable future?
As for the coaches, most of us have heard the expected names.
Some — like Alyson Habetz or Jennie Finch — just seem far too good to be true. Others — like Kyla Hall or T.J. Hubbard — don’t initially seem to carry the weight needed to maintain this program at its perennial top 10 to 15 level.
Beyond that group, how many established coaches would be willing to leave solid programs to pick up the pieces here after last week’s bombshell?
Time will tell on that issue. We’ll all stay tuned on the coaching search.
If too many key players transfer, getting the top-notch coach UL would desire may be even more difficult than it already seems.
On Wednesday, the university released a statement concerning the transferring process.
The statement read: “All softball student-athletes will have the opportunity to meet with members of the administration to discuss transfer procedures. Upon meeting with administrators and submitting a written request, student-athletes will be granted permission to contact, allowing the student-athlete to speak with coaches from any university other than those on the 2018 UL softball schedule and within the Sun Belt Conference. Student-athletes receiving permission to contact will be eligible to receive athletically related institutional financial aid and to practice.”
Most of that sounds OK, as long as the university actually grants the releases after contact is made with programs that meet the criteria. The language of that statement doesn’t appear to guarantee that.
Personally, I think the Sun Belt Conference is enough of a restriction.
For example, there are schools like Samford, Memphis, Maryland-Baltimore County, Evansville and Eastern Illinois on the Cajuns’ 2018 schedule.
I guess I get McNeese State, but why should anyone care if a former UL player finishes out her college eligibility at Evansville?
Perhaps it’s just cleaner to state it that way, but it feels a little too restrictive in a turmoil situation where the disgruntled players theoretically weren’t looking to transfer prior to this unexpected upheaval.
In addition to the possibility of transferring, UL confirmed Wednesday that current players who wish to continue their education here and no longer play softball could do so and still receive their current scholarship funds.
Because of the current volatile state of the program, softball fall practices are closed to the public and the media.
Former All-American outfielder Shellie Landry is the only coach from the 2017 staff left to hold practice sessions until a new coaching staff arrives.
“Last week was an emotional week for all of us,” Landry said. “This week, we turned our focus back on the field and our pursuit to win a national championship. I’m going to continue to facilitate practice. This university remains committed to the program and to the players.”
Athletic Network Footnote by Dr. Ed Dugas.
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