Coach Boone was around Tyler all summer and even had him come to his home for dinner. What’s more, contemporaneous records reflect the Coach commenting on Tyler’s appearance by saying he looked “great.”

Coach Boone’s attitude about player’s hair styles is admittedly old-school, but it’s not discriminatory. He’d feel the same way if a young Larry Bird was playing for UA-Fort Smith. That said, he’s going to make it abundantly clear to everyone concerned that he recruits players based on their talent and character. Coach Boone also wants to make clear that, despite what he thinks about personal grooming standards for student-athletes, he doesn’t believe (and never has) that a player’s hairstyle, tattoo sleeves, or body piercings are indicative of their character or their potential to become the next Larry Bird or LeBron James.

This isn’t the first time I’ve seen similar accusations made against a head coach by a student-athlete whose real motive is to create grounds for a waiver from the NCAA. In this case, we have a student-athlete who has already used the “one-time transfer without penalty” exception to avoid sitting out a year following a transfer from one school to another. Therefore, the only way he’ll be able to play basketball next season is to create a narrative that might cause the NCAA to believe that he transferred because he was somehow mistreated by his former school’s coaching staff.

Tyler wasn’t mistreated, and the issue about his hair had nothing to do with his decision to leave UA-Fort Smith. To the contrary, Tyler Williams transferred to a school in Oklahoma because Coach Boone had recruited some players who were more talented. It was fairly obvious to everyone – including Tyler – that he probably wasn’t going to get much time on the court next season if he stayed at UA-Fort Smith. This happens all the time in college sports, and that’s the real reason behind Tyler’s decision to leave UA-Fort Smith.

What the Williams’ are doing now appears to be a shot from half court in an effort to create grounds for a waiver so that Tyler will be able to play next season. Unfortunately, this scenario occurs all too often in college sports when players and their parents realize that’s the only route available to seek a waiver of the NCAA’s “year in residence” requirement following a transfer. For that reason, this familiar scenario of student-athletes suddenly accusing their former coach of misconduct as soon as they need a waiver has been the subject of countless sports news stories in recent months. They’d be easy for you to find.

– Tom

Mars Law Firm