Like jilted lovers, persistent telemarketers and overeager reality TV contestants, college basketball coaches and administrators rarely accept rejection gracefully.
Tulsa star Jordan Clarkson learned that firsthand this week when he informed the Golden Hurricane of his intent to transfer and submitted a list of nine schools he wanted to have permission to contact.
Even though the sophomore guard's father insists those nine are neither members of Conference USA nor future opponents for Tulsa, athletic director Ross Parmley only granted three of the schools permission to contact Clarkson. That leaves Clarkson with the option of transferring to Vanderbilt, Colorado or TCU if those schools have interest and a scholarship for him, or paying his own way at a school of his choice.
"I do believe it's an abuse of power," Mike Clarkson said. "Given what my son has done at the University of Tulsa and how he has conducted himself, what I asked for is what is the reasoning behind it. That is something we've actually requested and haven't gotten any answer on."
Tulsa spokesman Donald Komkalski declined to make Parmley available for an interview or to provide an explanation for the school's decision to restrict Clarkson's options. Speculation at Tulsa has been that Clarkson wanted to transfer to Texas or another power-conference program in his home state, but his father is adamant that the family still has not spoken to any coaches and no tampering has taken place.
In a year in which college basketball is on pace to produce a record number of transfers, similar disputes to the one between Clarkson and Tulsa are flaring up across the nation.
Wisconsin has endured a spate of negative publicity this week after preventing promising freshman forward Jarrod Uthoff from reaching out to Marquette, Iowa State and every school in the Big Ten and ACC. South Carolina has also made headlines for not releasing Damontre Harris to NC State because of tampering allegations. And Saint Joseph's coach Phil Martelli became talk show fodder last winter for refusing to sign the paperwork needed to allow transfer Todd O'Brien to play at Alabama-Birmingham.
"Nothing pisses me off in college basketball more than a coach w/ an over inflated ego," Missouri senior Kim English tweeted Wednesday. "Who do Bo Ryan and Phil Marteli think they are? The university can't 'Block' you from accepting another job. So why is it ok for a coach to do this to an athlete? Another flawed NCAA rule."
The thought of leaving Tulsa first became a possibility for Clarkson as a freshman when his father said he experienced homesickness and uncertainty as many out-of-state kids often do. The San Antonio native averaged a team-high 16.5 points per game as a sophomore after deciding to stick it out at Tulsa, but he once again began wavering about his future at the end of the season.
With Memphis leaving Conference USA and the league looking unlikely to get more than one NCAA bid in the future, Clarkson wanted to explore the possibility of going somewhere that he could play deep into March. Last month's firing of Tulsa coach Doug Wojcik and the previous departures of athletic director Bubba Cunningham and assistant coach David Cason also played a role in Clarkson's desire to leave.
On March 12, the day after Wojcik's firing and a month before the hiring of new coach Danny Manning, Clarkson's father released a statement to the Tulsa World indicating the family planned to "explore all available options." Then Parmley announced Tuesday that Clarkson had asked for a release to transfer and would receive permission to contact a limited number of schools.
"When Jordan addressed coach Manning and told him what his reasoning was, of course they expressed disappointment," Mike Clarkson said. "Coach Manning is a first-year head coach and losing your best player is going to have an impact on the program. However, I think what they're doing right now is going to have a greater impact on the program. This is going to leave a mark, an indelible mark."
The one silver lining to this for Mike Clarkson is he has the financial means to make sure nobody can prevent his son from enrolling at any school on his list. If Jordan decides the best fit for him is a school Parmley won't release him to, the elder Clarkson will pay for his son to enroll there.
Regardless, the Clarksons don't believe it's fair for coaches to put athletes seeking a transfer in this position.
"I think in this case the system has failed us," Mike Clarkson said. "Hopefully things that are happening to these athletes now will promote discussion. And maybe that in turn will dictate change."