Sheldon Jeter wanted Pitt to recruit him when he was a senior at Beaver Falls. He wanted to be a Panther. Pitt didn’t have a scholarship in the fall of his senior year. And after Khem Birch left abruptly, Coach Dixon looked long and hard at Jeter before going with Chris Jones. When more scholarship opened after the season, there was some interest in Jeter but it still seemed cool. Ultimately Pitt landed (what seemed like a great transfer at the time Trey Zeigler) and Jeter chose Vanderbilt. Still there was this mix of coy interest from Pitt even after the class was filled (and while Pitt was even pursuing Savon Goodman).
A year later Sheldon Jeter had a solid freshman year for Vandy. Well liked by the coaches and fans. Looked to be a promising player. But Jeter felt that family reasons needed him back home and he opted to transfer. He even appeared to get Vandy Coach Kevin Stallings blessing. By all accounts he still wanted to attend Pitt, and now Pitt wanted him. Even if he would have to sit out the year before being eligible.
It seemed that Jeter would announce over this past weekend. Instead he just tweeted that he was leaving Vandy and would be looking at options. Mildly surprising since everyone seemed to know what he wanted to do. Now we know why the delay.
Multiple sources have confirmed that Vanderbilt is blocking Beaver Falls High School graduate Sheldon Jeter from transferring to Pitt.
Jeter, who played his freshman season at Vanderbilt last season, announced on Friday that he was transferring to a school closer to home.
Jeter has several options to deal with the situation. He can appeal to the Vanderbilt athletics department to overturn coach Kevin Stallings’ ruling. He can enroll at Pitt and pay tuition for one year before being put on scholarship. Or he can transfer to a school other than Pitt.
It quickly was learned that Pitt was the only school that Vandy/Stallings was blocking Jeter. Duquesne and Robert Morris would be fine. But not Pitt. Jeter can and is appealling this to Vandy directly. Taking Stallings out of the picture.
Naturally no reason was given, but when a specific school is blocked. And it is one that the blocking school doesn’t play or have any history; then it is assumed that the blocked school is suspected of “tampering” with the player by the blocking school.
When Khem Birch was looking to transfer, Pitt initially blocked a transfer to Mizzou because they suspected some of Birch’s people were talking to Mizzou even before Birch’s decision. Pitt ultimately lifted the restriction — aided in no small part by Dixon talking to Mizzou head coach Frank Haith and especially Missouri declining any interest in Birch.
It’s something of a coward approach, though. You suspect but have no proof of tampering. So you just restrict. The fact is coaches — assistants and heads — stay in contact with former recruits all the time just in case. Is it tampering? Hard to say.
As we saw last year when Phil Martelli at St. John’s blocked a recruit from transferring anywhere, and then Bo Ryan at Wisconsin tried the same; reaction by college basketball writers was rather fierce in decrying the practice.
So it isn’t a surprise to see that dynamic in action once more.
The tactic of declining a release often results in horrible publicity for the school—and, more specifically, the coach—that takes such an action. Saint Joseph’s coach Phil Martelli was widely lambasted for declining to support a graduate transfer to UAB for center Todd O’Brien.
Wisconsin and Bo Ryan got it about as bad last spring when he initially restricted Jared Uthoff from transferring to 25 schools, including the entire Atlantic Coast Conference.
In the end, it didn’t matter that Ryan later told Sporting News he merely wanted to have a meeting with Uthoff before issuing a wider release.
The damaging publicity was out there.
So Vandy and Stallings reportedly are taking the same chance here, and exactly why they would is most puzzling. Stallings even acknowledged initially that Jeter wanted to be close to home.
Eammon Brennan at ESPN.com:
People get mad when they hear these stories, and for good reason. College basketball coaches are not only wildly compensated, but able to jump from job to job essentially at will, each new buyout clause superseded by the last. College players, meanwhile, must wait a year to play for a new school as a baseline, even if — as is usually the case — their request to transfer is granted and their desired school is approved. The fact that coaches have such tight control over the release and eventual destination of a player on a renewable but non-guaranteed one-year scholarship — a player who can be run off at a moment’s notice and still have to sit out a year — reeks of the NCAA’s antiquated patriarchy in its most odious form.
There may be a valid reason for Stallings’ decision, at least by his own reckoning. Or maybe the coach just doesn’t want to lose a key piece of his rebuilding effort. Maybe he feels betrayed — “wronged,” as Martelli famously put it.
Unfortunately, none of it matters. All we see from the outside is a college coach telling a player he can’t go somewhere based on what amounts to a whim. It is the worst possible look.
The irony is unmistakable.
Vanderbilt football fans were irate this week over Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy’s decision to block quarterbackfrom transferring to any school in the SEC. Now Commodores basketball coach Kevin Stallings appears to be doing the same thing to a transfer from his own program.
That Stallings would attempt to block Jeter’s transfer only reinforces how disappointed the Vanderbilt coach was to lose a key piece of the Commodores’ rebuilding efforts. Jeter averaged 5.5 points and 3.4 rebounds as a freshman, showing comfort in the paint and on the perimeter and emerging as a likely starter next season had he remained.
Nonetheless, just because Stallings is frustrated at losing a key player doesn’t make it right for him to impede Jeter’s quest to find a school that’s a better fit, especially if there’s no evidence Pittsburgh tampered in this instance.
And you can expect more of this. This hurts Stallings more than anyone else. Especially when he hides behind a “no comment.”
Stallings could not be reached for comment, but Vanderbilt athletic director David Williams told the Tennessean Stallings “was concerned about releasing Sheldon Jeter to one of the schools.” He declined to identify the school.
Concern, but not the actual courage to file a complaint or publicly say a word.
So why is Kevin Stallings blocking Sheldon Jeter’s transfer to Pitt? Because he’s an asshole. That’s why.
Now switching gears, slightly to the football side. Mike Gundy at Oklahoma State is getting the same treatment because he has set loads of restrictions on a QB who wants to transfer. Including Southern Miss because OSU’s former offensive coordinator is now the head coach there.
Really, by comparison, Pitt got off pretty lightly with regards to the restrictions it placed on Rushel Shell. There was some hyperbole from ESPN.com’s Pac-12 writer but not much else. Mainly because Fraud Graham is such an extreme case of assholery that no one else was going to rush to support Graham.
Yet, keep in mind Pitt also blocked Shell from going to WVU and Arizona. Teams Pitt does not and very likely will not face in the next few years. The apparent reason, the relationship Shell might have had with former coaches.
Arizona State coach Todd Graham, assistants Mike Norvell, Paul Randolph and Bo Graham and strength coach Shawn Griswold were part of the staff that initially lured Shell to Pitt. Same goes for Arizona assistants Calvin Magee and Tony Dews and on-campus recruiting director Matt Dudek.
Coaches and staff often maintain relationships with recruits, even if they end up going somewhere else. To allow those coaches to take their pick when a player is unhappy isn’t wise. Where does it stop?
Would other Pitt players who have maintained ties to Graham or Dews try to transfer to their schools after they saw Shell do it? Maybe.
In any case, it sets a bad precedent.
Why? I didn’t post on it at the time, because I was bogged down at the time with other things. Still it struck me as a weak justification.
Pitt benefited in no small part with that prior relationship with WR Mannasseh Gardner when he left Wisconsin. Or Cullen Christian when he left Michigan. He came to Pitt in no small part because of his prior relationship with Pitt coaches that had recruited him at Michigan. And remember when we were hoping Denard Robinson might transfer because of Calvin Magee? Now that isn’t a good idea because it goes the other way?
What about Chavas Rawlins? Should WVU block him from coming to Pitt if he wants to? Or should Pitt stop Deaysean Rippy from going to WVU if he wanted to transfer there?
It’s easy to say those are different situations and should be treated individually with their own particular circumstances. I’m sure that’s what Wisconsin thought last year and Vandy would say right now.