Situation Makes One Cry ‘Uncle'

Over the past 40 or so years being involved in intercollegiate athletics, specifically The University of Alabama, there have been a few things that made me want to cry "Uncle." And one of them is uncle. There have been far too many instances of an athlete making decisions based on an uncle's bad advice.

Frequently, these uncles don't show up until the worst possible time.

Over the years the mysterious uncle has appeared during hot recruiting battles, the result of which is almost always a player whose choice of school seems to have been influenced by something other than the facilities, academics, etc. that drive most such decisions. Alabama Coach Nick Saban knew that Andre Smith was going to leave the Crimson Tide for a pro career following his junior season, but an uncle was the man in front as Smith sabotaged his Bama teammates by signing early with an agent.

The latest uncle in the Alabama athletics picture is Darien Knox, the current darling of the anti-Crimson Tide media.

When Bama Coach Anthony Grant announced that Justin Knox would be leaving Alabama after earning his degree this summer, Grant said he believed it was a family decision. Read "uncle."

The Knox family has decided that Justin, who averaged fewer than seven points and four rebounds per game while playing about half the games last season, has a better chance of improving his NBA chances at another school. It makes one wonder if anyone in the Knox family has ever seen an NBA game. Justin Knox is a fine young man, has been an excellent student, but will never get a sniff at an NBA career.

Justin did not bring his plans to his coach. Grant had to call him in to ask about an internet rumor, that Knox planned to transfer. Knox would no doubt be out of the news cycle everywhere but Birmingham now had he been permitted to sign with UAB, which seems to have been his only choice even before telling Grant. And now the Birmingham News is in a tizzy because Alabama says it will not grant Knox a release to go to UAB (among others, including all Southeastern Conference schools and teams on Bama's upcoming schedule).

The University is within its rights to grant a restricted release. There are hundreds of Division I basketball schools and The University is limiting only a few. The decision not to grant a release for Knox to UAB could be for any number of reasons. Alabama doesn't have to explain itself. There is no "policy" about transfers within the system, as anyone can tell by looking at many past examples, and for the Birmingham media to accept the uncle's claim that anyone at Alabama told him that tells a of about both uncle and the attitude of the Birmingham media towards The University of Alabama.

Actually, Knox can go to UAB. He just can't be on scholarship without the release. Perhaps his uncle will pay his tuition, fees, books, room and board, the way The University of Alabama has been doing the past three years...and will continue to do through the summer, even though Knox is leaving. Alabama is enabling him to earn his degree on Alabama's nickel.

Uncle can get his money back when Justin signs his pro contract.

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