Apologetic letter can't save UNM's Brown

When New Mexico signed Emmanuel Negedu, the former Tennessee player who collapsed after a practice and was forced to find his basketball future elsewhere, it accelerated an already complicated scholarship logjam for Steve Alford's program. Alford brought in four high school recruits and a host of transfers this spring, and with Negedu's addition, it became clear someone on the Lobos wasn't going to be back in 2010-11.

Sophomore forward Will Brown read the tea leaves, got nervous, and decided to take matters into his own hands. So Brown sent a letter -- a handwritten letter, believe it or not -- to the Albuquerque Journal stating that he had no intention of leaving. Brown apologized for his "actions throughout the season" and said he "loved this city with all his heart" and "will be here to continue playing basketball."

Turns out, he won't. On Wednesday afternoon, New Mexico announced that Brown's scholarship wouldn't be renewed for 2010-11, due to "repeated violations of team policy." The press release was short (even by typical press release standards), containing only two paragraphs and a single quote from Alford that promised to help Brown "find other opportunities."

In a way, it's hard to lump Brown's situation in with the usual runoff archetype -- the sleazy practice of jettisoning a bench player thanks to a coach's desire to add an incoming recruit -- we see so often in college hoops. Lots of runoff players don't have apparent behavioral issues. It's hard to criticize New Mexico for getting rid of a player that apparently violated team rules so often he felt it necessary to apologize in a handwritten letter to the local rag.

At the same time, it was just Tuesday when the Lobos trumpeted Brown's participation in a team event designed to help adoption-eligible Albuquerque youths find adoptive parents. Brown was one of several players on hand at the event, playing basketball with the kids and coordinating team activities. Reading between the lines would suggest that Brown was back in the program's good graces. Um, apparently not.