Right Now, The College Basketball World Hates Phil Martelli

Todd O'Brien is a senior big man for UAB, but you won't find his name in any box score from the eight games the Blazers have played this season. He's not injured or suspended. Instead, his eligibility has been held up by his former coach Phil Martelli, for whom O'Brien played at St. Joe's before taking advantage of an NCAA rule allowing players who have graduated to transfer for their final year of NCAA play without sitting out a year. (Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson used the same rule last year to transfer from NC State.)

O'Brien outlined his situation in an op-ed published yesterday at SI.com. Put simply, SJU coach Phil Martelli won't sign the waiver to allow O'Brien's transfer of eligibility and the NCAA rejected his appeal. The college sports media community responded to O'Brien's screed quickly:

PLEASE READ THIS story by a player who's getting screwed by St. Joseph's. I'm thoroughly disgusted with Phil Martelli. http://bit.ly/voPoFy
- Seth davis (@SethDavisHoops) December 19, 2011

The fact that a school even has the option of refusing to release a player is appalling. I've been railing against this for years.
- Seth davis (@SethDavisHoops) December 19, 2011

The St. Joseph AD's statement to SI.com was pathetic. Martelli's silenceeven more pathetic. He's acting like he has reason to be ashamed.
- Seth davis (@SethDavisHoops) December 19, 2011

I'm calling on all St. Joseph alumni to write/call/email Phil Martelli and tell him to release O'Brien. Phil should be better than this.
- Seth davis (@SethDavisHoops) December 19, 2011

The fact that the AD would hide behind an appeal of the decision HE made is gutless. Pure cowardice.
- Seth davis (@SethDavisHoops) December 19, 2011

If true, Todd O'Brien's case is an embarassment for NCAA, college sports: http://bit.ly/vUWEg6 Kid graduates, held hostage? FREE O'BRIEN!!
- Jay Bilas (@JayBilas) December 19, 2011

Phil Martelli u r a good man - Let this young guy play @ UAB - release him now - Learned from my Mom & Dad NEVER hold a grudge! # RELEASE
-Dick Vitale (@DickieV) December 19, 2011

St. Joseph's is holding former hoops player Todd O'Brien's career hostage. Why? Because it can. http://bit.ly/voPoFy
- Andy Staples (@Andy_Staples) December 19, 2011

This story should leave you fuming at the NCAA and St. Joes. Their behavior [here] is abhorrent. http://bit.ly/ukM0l9
- Rand Getlin (@Rand_Getlin) December 19, 2011

Others voicing support or sharing the link include Bruce Feldman, Doug Gottlieb, Bomani Jones, Jim Dunaway, and Dan Wetzel.

St. Joseph's president John Smithson responded that the university was within full compliance with the rules, but neither Martelli nor AD Don Dijulia are commenting.

CBSSports.com, citing "sources," reported today the issue may lie in O'Brien's possible involvement in a laptop theft or other suspicions of disloyalty, but the point now is moot—plus O'Brien was cleared of the charges, according to his attorney.

Todd O'Brien graduated from St. Joseph's, is enrolled at UAB in a public administration Master's degree program, and would immediately help a terrible UAB team that isn't scheduled to play St. Joe's this season and has little chance of making the NCAA tournament. Phil Martelli's refusal to sign O'Brien's waiver is ridiculous, and his bashing by college basketball's biggest names is fully warranted.