FIU Basketball Players Stage Walkout, Request Transfers After Isiah Thomas Firing
The former NBA All-Star and failed New York Knicks coach last week was fired as head coach of Florida International University's men's basketball team. His players staged a walkout during an awards banquet, and now some of them want to be released from their scholarships and allowed to transfer.
The team walked out of an awards banquet in a single file Monday night just as video of the team's highlights from the past season was being introduced.
"We didn't want to disrespect the program at all or anything," freshman guard Tanner Wozniak told Yahoo! Sports. "We just wanted to show our support for Isiah Thomas. He was a great coach, a mentor, and a father figure to us. He didn't have a winning record, but you can't build a program in three years."
Following Thomas's firing, several team members asked to be released from their scholarships so they could transfer to other schools. The athletic department has denied those requests.
Now, senior guard DeJuan Wright has sent a letter to FIU's president concerning the firing. ESPN has the full letter. Here's an excerpt:
Yet, some of us have asked to be released from the school and have been rejected by the AD. We ask that under such circumstances 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.Follow Miami New Times on Facebook and Twitter @MiamiNewTimes.