Crawford decided to leave the Cats last week because he wasn't getting enough playing time, especially the last two games when his minutes dropped drastically. He returned home to Michigan with his parents, where he reportedly planned to find a new school closer to home.
An NCAA rule connected to the letter of intent that each player signs punishes freshmen for not completing their first year of school apparently began to weigh on Crawford's mind. By leaving UK now, Crawford would have to sit out next season and have only two years of eligibility remaining.
If Crawford completed his freshman year at UK, he can then transfer and have three years of eligibility remaining.
Crawford reportedly met with the UK coach after the weekend and Smith welcomed him back with open arms. Smith said only that there would be "sanctions" against Crawford and added it wasn't anyone's business what they would be.
I'm guess Tubby is a little too embarrassed to reveal just how easy it was for Crawford to leave and come back.
Smith is setting a bad precedent in this case, basically opening the door for players to come and go as they please. How can the UK coach not allow the next player to return who takes his ball and goes home when the mood hits him?
I'm guessing the decision had something to do with Crawford's stature as a McDonald's All-American. Transfers are often good for college basketball teams, freeing up scholarships for younger players who may help the program, replacing marginal recruits who have not lived up to expectations at a major program like UK. Smith probably wouldn't have been so open to a return if the player didn't have quite so promising a basketball future.
All the Tubby apologists were busy earlier in the week praising the coach for giving Crawford a "second chance."
What Tubby did, the way I look at it, is demonstrate that you can get away with just about anything, including walking out on your teammates at midseason, the first time someone hurts your All-American feelings.
If the coach really wanted to teach a lesson, he could have showed Crawford and all the future UK players that there is a price to pay for making rash and selfish decisions in the heat of the moment.
One radio host said Tubby could have made the easy decision and said Crawford couldn't return. Bringing back a player of Crawford's potential and stature isn't hard. Telling him to stay home would have been the tough choice, and it would have been the right thing to do.
John Henson can be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org