Since day one, Trey Zeigler received special treatment.
He signed a National Letter of Intent to attend and play basketball for Central Michigan University in front of media, friends and the community, and announced it on national television. He was the poster boy, expected to take the men’s basketball team out of the rut that has plagued the program for the last 30 years.
And rightfully so.
The athletics department was losing its national recognition with former-quarterback Dan Lefevour leaving for the NFL, and it needed a new champion.
Zeigler, a Mount Pleasant High School graduate, was highly recruited by top-tier schools with basketball programs miles ahead of CMU’s. He was set to be the change of culture on a basketball team that had seen its struggles.
When news of his request to transfer came out Tuesday morning, it was no surprise. His dad, head coach Ernie Zeigler, was no longer leading the CMU basketball program, effectively eliminating his only reason for staying put and playing ball in Mount Pleasant.
But the decision to grant Trey alone on the team the opportunity to look at other schools is concerning. Jason Kaufman, director of communications for the athletics department, told Central Michigan Life Tuesday that others — Austin McBroom, Derek Jackson and Austin Keel are also expected to transfer once the semester ends — will have to wait until CMU finds a new coaching staff.
This is blatantly unfair. The embarrassing men’s basketball season is over. Players aren’t expected to be in practice anymore and with the firing of Ernie Zeigler, the players have no leader to look toward.
There is no reason to force some players to stay while letting others fly the coop. Why play favorites for the former-coach’s son?
Athletics may have forgotten that basketball is a team sport. But that doesn’t change the fact that the Chippewas were meant to be unified, whether in victory or defeat.
Trey’s teammates are supposed to wait while the coach’s son crisscrosses the nation, visiting Duke this weekend, and reportedly considering Michigan, Michigan State, UCLA and Pittsburgh.
Trey should not be given special consideration. He already proved he was not special on the court.