Big Time ESPN Analyst Talks Up Ex-Bronco’s Cause
Jay Bilas, one of the leading basketball analysts at ESPN has taken up the cause of ex-Western Michigan Bronco basketball player Michael Flowers.
With everything surrounding the global pandemic, this story has received relatively little publicity. (Another story maybe even less; Clayton Bates has been promoted to head coach at WMU after the firing of Steve Hawkins.)
After Hawkins was fired, WMU says Flowers told the school he wanted out on March 30th, and entered the NCAA transfer portal, and then asked for immediate eligibility and the school says that onus of that is on his next school. The Detroit News' Tony Paul reported back in April that Flowers had narrowed his next school options to four choices: Cal, DePaul, Iowa State and Santa Clara. Then, in May, Flowers, who lead the Broncos in scoring this past season, announced on social media, he was going to play at South Alabama.
There are two confusing aspects to this story. One is, Sports Illustrated said Flowers graduated in three years, and as a graduate, he'd be eligible to play immediately rather than sit a year. But even al.com in Mobile says his eligibility status is confusing.
Another is a story in the Western Herald, where Flowers says he didn't have a scholarship to come back to, and, he claims, WMU scared off other schools who were looking at recruiting him. Flowers also blames WMU for losing his claim for immediate eligibility.
Bilas, who starred at Duke in the 1980's, and has a legal background, has been a staunch advocate for athletes, especially when it comes to the NCAA.
Flowers case resembles an ugly divorce, with a lot of he said, they said claims. There are unanswered questions.
For a program that's been struggling for a while now, it's hard to say if this publicity is good or bad. At the very least, it's a puts a spotlight back on the basketball program, but Bilas' comments don't put the program in a positive light.