Bill Snyder has a long history at Kansas State, and built the football program out of basically nothing when he started his first stint in 1989. The 77-year-old is synonymous with Kansas State football, and is used to his word being the law. But right now, he needs someone to step in and tell him to let it go when it comes to wide receiver Corey Sutton’s request to transfer. He’s fighting a losing battle, regardless of the underlying facts, and he cannot see it.
Sutton alleges that he presented a list of 35 schools, including some Division II and FCS schools, and Kansas State blocked all of them. Sutton, of course, is free to leave the university, and will have to sit out a year at a FCS school. Snyder cannot literally force him to stay and put on the uniform again. What Kansas State can–and is currently doing–is prevent him from getting a different athletic scholarship elsewhere for a year by not releasing him. So if he transfers, he has to pay for a year of school while also not playing. Sutton says he cannot afford to do that.
Sutton also sent some now-deleted tweets (summarized in the Wichita Eagle):
One read: “Can you stop being a slave master and give me my release?”
Another read: “Y’all have no idea, student athletes stay too quiet, covering everyone’s tail.”
One more: “I worked way, way, way too hard for this to let a man stop me.”
His response was rambling, hitting several inconsistent points. He noted that if your backups leave, you don’t have much of a team left.
“It doesn’t make sense to not try to prevent that from happening,” he said.
Well, that is of course true, you want to try to prevent that from happening, by communicating, discussing, and connecting. But you can’t literally prevent it from happening in every case, and sometimes, it’s time to move on.
Snyder has also built his programs by finding players that were hidden gems or left other programs. Kansas State has a long history of taking juco players, who may have committed to other programs initially. His first prominent quarterback, Chad May, was a transfer who came in and led the team to its first bowl appearance under Snyder back in 1993.
Snyder called the claims that an assistant coach told Sutton that he would be a starter here “not even close to being accurate.” Sutton alleged that he arrived early on campus based on statements made, and also wouldn’t have wanted to burn his redshirt his freshman year if he wasn’t going to participate in half the plays. (He had four catches as a freshman.)
I have little doubt that Snyder does not run his program by guaranteeing players specific playing time. Of course, what an assistant coach might say in the competitive recruiting process might be different. Snyder better hope there aren’t texts out there saved on phones.
But regardless of that, the most troubling thing is what he then said about Sutton’s history with the program.
“If you do right, and abide by the law and our regulations–you know this young man has been in trouble twice, tested positive twice. I’ve never kept a player in our program who’s tested positive two times in drug testing, but we have some rules in the athletic department that allowed that to happen this time.”
First, he’s revealing the results of, presumably, a school-instituted drug test publicly to which a student-athlete had to submit. Just as troubling, how does this line of thinking make any sense? Snyder doesn’t want the player to leave, because it hurts the team. But, oh by the way, this player should have been kicked off the team because of rules.
If Sutton is so bad, why didn’t you just cut the loss when he actually came to you and wanted to leave? That loss has now gone public, and right now, Snyder is falling further behind, and this is going to have a big impact on recruiting at a school that has basically been built on labor of a coach who now approaches 80 years old. It would have been better than punt than take an unnecessary risk, but this is one area where Snyder has failed to see that. He can’t win, regardless of the facts.