Blog Entry

St. Joe's won't free former player Todd O'Brien

Posted on: December 20, 2011 10:33 am
Edited on: December 20, 2011 11:55 am
 


By Jeff Goodman

Free Todd O'Brien. 

O'Brien is a former Saint Joseph's big man who has transferred to UAB, but isn't allowed to play because the school -- and coach Phil Martelli -- refuses to sign a waiver. 

Here's the letter O'Brien wrote on SI.com on Monday. 

O'Brien spent one season at Bucknell before transferring to St. Joe's, where he averaged 22.7 minutes his first season before getting only 7.2 minutes and averaging 1.0 point per game last season. 

O'Brien's lawyer, Don Jackson, told CBSSports.com the player was informed by Martelli in the spring that he didn't fit into the team's plans. 

O'Brien decided to take advantage of an NCAA rule in which a player who has graduated in four years, but has a year of eligibility remaining, can play immediately at another school -- as long as it's for academic purposes and the player is pursuing a graduate program that isn't offered at his old school. O'Brien is working on a master's degree in public administration. 

Jackson said O'Brien was given permission to talk to other schools, but Martelli and the school have not signed off on the waiver that would allow him to play at UAB.

Martelli did not return calls by CBSSports.com seeking comment, but the school did release comment. 

"Saint Joseph's University followed all applicable NCAA procedures and applied consistent internal practices in declining to support the requested transfer exception," the statement read. "Upon appeal, the NCAA legislative relief wavier team [initial decision] and the Division I Subcommittee for Legislative Relief [final decision] each reviewed the case and did not grant the requested waiver. Institutional policy and federal student records law prohibit Saint Joseph's from releasing additional or confidential information in this matter. As all eligibility determinations rest with the NCAA and not its member institutions, Saint Joseph's University has no further comment and considers the matter closed."

The school's interim president, John Smithson, also expressed his support for both Martelli and Saint Joseph's athletic director Don DiJulia in response to O'Brien's first-person letter on SI.com.  

Sources told CBSSports.com that a previous incident last season involving a stolen laptop might have contributed to Martelli's resentment toward O'Brien, even, according to Jackson, referring to him as the "most disloyal player he's ever coached." 

Pat Swilling Jr. was dismissed from the team in the laptop incident and Jackson said O'Brien sat out four games during an investigation. 

"Todd was investigated for having knowledge of it," Jackson said. "He sat out four games during the investigation, but was 100 percent cleared and reinstated." 

"What does the laptop issue have to do with releasing him or not?" Jackson asked. 

The other issue, sources told CBSSports.com, is that Martelli believed O'Brien knew all along he was going to transfer -- but didn't inform the staff or the school until July 18 and took three summer classes that were paid for by the school. Jackson reiterated that O'Brien was told he wasn't in Martelli's plans, but that something may have changed in terms of current players transferring or him not getting players into the program that were anticipated. 

Whatever the case, Martelli needs to let O'Brien play for Mike Davis and the Blazers. It wasn't as if O'Brien was a star. Once considered a big-time recruit back in the day for Bucknell, he had turned into an insurance policy for the Hawks in case someone got hurt. He averaged just one point per game, didn't play in several games last season, and didn't leave for a fellow Big 5 school or within the same league. He is at UAB, a program that is struggling and isn't on St. Joe's schedule this season. 

If he signs off on it, O'Brien would go from a practice player -- which he's been down at UAB since mid-October -- to someone who could likely play immediately. 

"UAB's compliance said that it could be done almost immediately," Jackson said. 

However, O'Brien sits in limbo for the time being while Martelli takes a public battering for his unwillingness to relent. 

It can all be over, though. Martelli just needs to let O'Brien go free. 

Photo: Getty Images


Comments

Since: Mar 3, 2008
Posted on: December 20, 2011 1:05 pm
 

St. Joe's won't free former player Todd O'Brien

Fear the Hawk...



Since: Nov 25, 2009
Posted on: December 20, 2011 1:02 pm
 

St. Joe's won't free former player Todd O'Brien

What harm will it do to St. Joe's to release this young man?  If he was guilty of some crime; good riddance to bad rubbish, right?  If he isn't guilty of any crime; what Coach Martelli and St. Joe's are doing is immoral, if not criminal.  Coaches have left schools for less (see Graham, Todd).  Aren't we guaranteed life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?


Nope.  We are not guaranteed "life, liberty and the persuit of happiness".  That phrase is from the Declaration of Independence and not the US Constitution or it's amendments.  And even if it was from the Constitution, it wouldn't apply to St. Joes.  The Constitution protects the rights of people from the government, not from private schools (at least I think St. Joes is private).



Since: Aug 11, 2010
Posted on: December 20, 2011 12:55 pm
 

St. Joe's won't free former player Todd O'Brien

Why would anyone go to UAB for purely academic reasons?  Probably same reason why Russell Wilson went to Wisconsin.  That killer graduate program was too much to pass on.  I don't want to demean UAB, I just want the NCAA to end the hypocrisy.  And Phil Martelli should let the kid go.  Phil Martelli knows not every kid is going to be who you thought they were (athletically and personally).  It's the cost of recruiting. 



Since: Sep 5, 2006
Posted on: December 20, 2011 12:52 pm
 

St. Joe's won't free former player Todd O'Brien

Amen. Big turd.



Since: Nov 17, 2006
Posted on: December 20, 2011 12:51 pm
 

St. Joe's won't free former player Todd O'Brien

This was a petty, spiteful act on the part of Martelli toward Todd O'Brien.  The school's answer, couched in bureaucratic evasion, is unworthy of a college that claims to be a Christian institution.  Martelli wasn't going to play O'Brien and told him so; so what valid reason--not just bureaucratic procedure--has St. Joseph's not to let him go?



Since: Nov 14, 2006
Posted on: December 20, 2011 12:45 pm
 

St. Joe's won't free former player Todd O'Brien

This kid is a turd.  He has transferred 3 times, stolen from a school and left his teammates hanging twice.  Hey, you reap what you sow.  I wouldn't sign off on it either.  Playing is a privilege and this kid hasn't earned it. 



Since: Aug 22, 2006
Posted on: December 20, 2011 12:29 pm
 

St. Joe's won't free former player Todd O'Brien

This situation is ridiculous... I can't believe that St. Joe's is being allowed to keep him from transferring.  Martelli can resign tomorrow and leave the program, but this kid can't leave to go somewhere where he can actually play?  It is pathetic.

And if this laptop thing is such a big deal, then release him and get him off your team.  If he wasn't absolved of any wrong-doing, why would you want a thief on your squad?

The coach and the AD are at fault here, and the NCAA should be ashamed of themselves for letting it go on.  I'll be the NCAA would be all over it if a local businessman bought the kid a cup of coffee. 



Since: Mar 30, 2007
Posted on: December 20, 2011 12:16 pm
 

St. Joe's won't free former player Todd O'Brien

what does st. joes or the coach gain by not signing off on the waiver? sounds like the school is supporting a dick head coach.



Since: Oct 24, 2008
Posted on: December 20, 2011 12:11 pm
 

St. Joe's won't free former player Todd O'Brien

What harm will it do to St. Joe's to release this young man?  If he was guilty of some crime; good riddance to bad rubbish, right?  If he isn't guilty of any crime; what Coach Martelli and St. Joe's are doing is immoral, if not criminal.  Coaches have left schools for less (see Graham, Todd).  Aren't we guaranteed life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?



Since: Dec 20, 2011
Posted on: December 20, 2011 12:06 pm
 

St. Joe's won't free former player Todd O'Brien

 
I have a lot of respect for Coach Martelli.  A few years ago is program was Ranked #1 in the country.  After that season, he could have gone on to a larger program, but he decided to remain at St. Joes.  That tells me that he is loyal to St Joes and his players.  I can't believe that same person would hold a grudge that would prevent someone from playing ball.  There must be more to this then O'Brien is telling.


The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com