They kept him instead of cutting him free

My wife is a big Georgetown University basketball fan.  She was relating a story about Tyler Adams, a huge recruit a few years ago who subsequently was diagnosed with arrhythmia and could not play competitive basketball.  Instead of dropping his scholarship, the University gave him a medical waiver.  He stayed on the team and earned his degree.  My wife said, “they kept him instead of cutting him free.”  We looked at each other and realized it was a malaphor moment, and I wrote it down immediately so I wouldn’t forget (the good ones tend to fade away…).  This is a congruent conflation of “cutting him loose” and “setting him free”, both meaning to let go.  The link contains a very nice story of Adams and his final regular season game as a Hoya:

http://espn.go.com/blog/collegebasketballnation/post/_/id/103831/georgetown-player-with-heart-condition-scores-one-final-time-on-senior-day

Tyler Adams