With the college bowl season in the record books and college basketball in full swing, I want to discuss some college athletes who made tough decisions to move on from their teams. As these stories have since evolved in the press, I am focusing on the initial actions and reports.
1. Kevin Coble & Northwestern:
Kevin Coble did not return to the Northwestern Wildcats basketball team this year. After surgery on his left foot he went through rigorous rehabilitation and was told he would eventually have full recovery. During the rehab process, however, Coble made the decision to finish out his senior year at Northwestern, but not to return to basketball. Northwestern coach Bill Carmody stated, “[Coble] looked me in the eye and told me. We had some talks. He’s a thoughtful player and you have to respect it.”

Relevance to careers:
What Kevin did here was the best you could hope for as a college coach or an employer. Keeping people in the communication loop will always have positive results – even if the message is not what people want to hear. They will respect your honesty, even if the outcome is not what they were hoping for. Both coaches and employers just want open communication throughout the process. Does this mean you should inform your employer as soon as you think about applying to a new position? No. This could actually backfire and result in you being unemployed. It does mean, though, once you have made a decision to accept a new offer be respectful of your current employer and let them know immediately – give a proper notice which is typically two weeks.
2. Bryce Brown & University of Tennessee:
Bryce Brown did not return to the University of Tennessee football team. After a surprising decision to actually join the team, Brown left as mysteriously as he arrived. This fall, according to GoVolsXtra.com, a school official stated to the News Sentinel that, “Bryce left town without a face-to-face request for a transfer.”
Relevance to careers:
In my mind, Brown’s leaving the team without any word to the coach or the school is the same as just not showing up to work to “quit.” This is not “quitting” – quitting involves actually giving notice of one’s departure. Whether you are a member of a team or an employee, you owe it to the people around you to communicate your intentions – even if it is a difficult conversation. Step up and do the right thing.
3. Seantrel Henderson & University of Southern California:
Lastly, Seantrel Henderson did not play football for the University of Southern California this year. Initially, Henderson made the decision to attend USC prior to outcome of the Reggie Bush investigations. He wanted to hold off on signing his letter of intent; however, Coach Lane Kiffin told him not to worry about any potential penalties resulting from the investigation. On this assurance, he went ahead and signed his letter of intent. When USC was, in fact, penalized with the bowl ban, probation and loss of scholarships, Henderson asked to be released from his letter of intent. Thankfully, Kiffin stayed true to his word and did release Henderson – who then announced his desire to attend Miami.
Relevance to careers:
This is a good example of both parties communicating with each other and being respectful. Things changed from the time Henderson initially agreed to join the team and his intended start date. This can also happen with employment. I knew of a young woman who, after a lot of research into a company, accepted a job in NYC. She was told that she would have client contact and would be guaranteed a spot in the NYC branch. On her first day of work she discovered that not only would there be very minimal client contact, but also she would be located in NYC just for training. She would then need to relocate to either DC or Boston. She was upfront with the company about her disappointment with the changes in the position from her original acceptance. Although the company did not want to lose her as an employee, they appreciated and respected her honesty. They also understood her reasons for leaving.
The media often pounces upon coaches and professional players when they make decisions to leave their teams. Something to keep in mind is that these people are simply making career decisions, as we all do. As fans, however, we forget this and expect our coaches and players to have the same passion for our team as we do. 
Today, I wanted to use these examples of college athletes. Career development is just that – development – and it takes time and experience to know how to properly navigate the employment waters. The bottom line when playing for a team (or working for an employer) is to keep open lines of communication as you make the decision to move on to your next opportunity.