Getting to Madison is easy. It's the leaving that's hard.
It sounds like a cheesy slasher-flick movie poster, or some lame facsimile thereof. But it's become true for Wisconsin forward Jarrod Uthoff, a redshirt freshman who last week told Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan he wanted to leave the program to find a better offensive fit. Ryan, as per NCAA rules, outlined a list of schools to which Uthoff would not be allowed to decamp. Ryan put the entire Big Ten, Iowa State (Uthoff is an Iowa native), Marquette -- and, now, according to the Metro Sports Report -- the entire Atlantic Coast Conference on Uthoff's apparently-still-growing list of banned schools:
"I just got an email about it today from Wisconsin's compliance office," Uthoff told the Metro Sports Report Monday night. "I didn't see it coming." Uthoff said the University of Virginia (an ACC school coached by former Wisconsin assistant Tony Bennett) sought permission from Wisconsin to contact him. As a result, Ryan added Virginia and all the other ACC schools to the no-contact list. Uthoff said he doesn't know why Ryan has placed so many schools on the restricted list. "You have a better guess than I do," he said. "I'm not really sure."
It's a valid question. If I had to take a guess, I'd wager Ryan really doesn't want Uthoff's departure to come back and hurt him somewhere down the line. He doesn't want to play him at a Big Ten school, or at Marquette, or even in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, apparently. (And the Iowa State thing? I'm wagering Ryan is no fan of the budding transfer landing zone under Fred Hoiberg. But again, that's just a guess.)
But whatever answers you want to come up with, they don't really matter. Know why? Because if Ryan wanted to leave Wisconsin to take a job in the ACC, he could. If he wanted to take a job at Iowa State or Marquette or in the Big Ten, he could. There are no restrictions on where and when he can coach, provided he and a school reach an agreement on a contract. But for players, a coach merely needs to add 30 or so schools to a ban list, and that's that.
Just let the kid go, coaches. Maybe he'll come back to haunt you somewhere down the line. Maybe there are personnel issues the public doesn't know about. Honestly, none of that stuff really matters. All that matters is how bad this looks, how petty it feels, how silly the rule and any coach who chooses to take advantage of it really is.
It's far worse than Uthoff hitting a jumper for Virginia in two years, that's for sure.