Former TCU women's basketball coach Jeff Mittie was not at Kansas State too long before he was thrust just about right in the middle of a national story that was going to happen the moment the school fired Deb Patterson and her staff.
Forward Leticia Romero, who is from Spain, signed to play for Kansas State like most all college players do - they are going for the coach. When that coach leaves, the player often want to leave. When Patterson left, things changed for Romero.
Although Romero, who led KSU in scoring last season and averaged 14.2 points, 5.8 rebounds and 5.0 assists last season, originally expressed a repeated interest in remaining in Manhattan to play for Mittie, something changed her mind. That's when all hell broke loose or Mittle and KSU.
Patterson and her staff were hired by Northern Colorado, and then things changed. Romero wanted to leave, KSU said no, and then it became a national story that everybody up to and including ESPN analysts Dick Vitale and Jay Bilas weighed in on; both were highly critical of KSU for not letting Romero leave.
The school had maintained that Patterson, or her staff, was tampering with Romero and trying to recruit her to leave.
On Tuesday, KSU reversed its decision and is allowing Romero to transfer to any school outside of the Big 12.
"I inherited a little bit of this, obviously," Mittie told me Tuesday. "The timing was really hard. The timing of everything, with everything that goes on, I think restricts you when you are going through a coaching change. The people don’t realize is that the timing of this is real hard and this was complicated because there were so many moving pieces."
Mittie was reticent to get into too many specifics of this story.
"I am glad we got to this point. My AD had to work through it to get through it, and now we can move forward," he said. "I think its better for both parties, I do. It's time to move forward. She is a good player and she will do well."
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