Transfers Plaguing Success of Fordham Men’s Basketball


Published: April 30, 2009

Since the final buzzer of the season finale, news and rumors have been swirling around the Fordham men’s basketball program.

The team finished the season with a 3-25 record, the second worst in school history. On top of that, the Rose Hill Gym, which is the oldest active in Division I basketball, has hampered recruiting some of the top players in the country due to its small size and lack of modern facilities. At this time, Fordham has no current plans to build a new basketball gym.

Some of these glaring problems have contributed to an exodus of players from the men’s basketball team.

On March 17, Fordham University released a statement announcing that freshman guard Trey Blue, Fordham College at Rose Hill (FCRH) ’12, had transferred from the basketball program.

“Trey had some personal issues during the season that took a lot out of him,” said Whittenburg in the statement. “At the end of the season we decided that it was in his best interest to transfer. We wish him the best of luck in the future.”

Blue, who averaged 8.2 points per game, took a leave of absence from the team at the end of January and missed the final eight games of the season.

On April 2, the University released another statement announcing the transfer of sophomore guard Mike Moore, FCRH ’11.

“Mike Moore has asked for and received a release from his scholarship,” said Whittenburg in the statement. “We appreciate his contribution to the Fordham program and wish him the best in the future.”

Moore, who averaged 12.8 points per game this season, had become a viable scoring threat on the court.

The basketball team also lost seniors Zack Wing, FCRH ’09, Chris Bethel, FCRH ’09, and Luke Devine, College of Business Administration (CBA) ’09 to graduation.

While the loss of those players has certainly affected the talent level of the men’s basketball team, the possible transfer of team’s best player, freshman point guard Jio Fontan, FCRH ’12, would certainly hinder coach Whittenburg’s ability to turn the men’s basketball program into a highly competitive team.

According to Adam Zagoria of, Fontan has asked the University for a release from his scholarship.  Zagoria says that half a dozen schools would like to have the Fordham point guard on their team. Two of them include Big East schools Rutgers and Seton Hall from Fontan’s home state of New Jersey.

Fontan has also sought the advice of his former high school coach at St. Anthony’s, Bob Hurley.  Hurley has stated publicly that he would like to see Fontan remain at Fordham for at least one more year.

Last week, Fontan’s family was said to have conversations with Fordham administrators regarding his future with the program. Zagoria says that a final decision may come next week.

On April 15, Fordham released a statement backing both the men’s and women’s basketball coaches prior to the release of a New York Times article written by Brian Heyman that was critical of both programs.

“The University is confident that with the returning student-athletes, the recruits who have already committed to these programs, and those who will commit in the future, Fordham will be competitive in the Atlantic 10 Conference under the leadership of our current head coaches,” the statement read.

The Heyman article, which was published on April 19, is only one example of the current negativity surrounding the program. Members of message boards and college hoops blogs, such as, have been calling for the firing of both coach Whittenburg and athletic director Frank McLaughlin in recent weeks.

However, last week there was good news regarding the future of the men’s basketball program. Chris Gaston and Lance Brown, two members of Fordham’s incoming recruiting class of 2009, have stated publicly that they still intend to come to the Bronx regardless if Fontan leaves Fordham. This comes as a relief to Ram fans and the Fordham administration worried about the recruits seeking to get out of their commitments.

While the state of the men’s basketball program may not be strong at the moment, athletic director Frank McLaughlin told Charles Costello of Fordham that he sees the program being successful in the future.

“…I think we have some very good players coming in this fall. With our freshmen I think people will see an improvement and then we just have to keep plugging away…” he said.