May 22, 2017

This is so stupid.

It has been seven weeks since Cam Johnson made it known that he was transferring from Pitt as a grad transfer with two full years of eligibility left. To no one’s surprise the process of finding a new home has been a slow one.

A long-armed, tall guard who shoots better then 40% on 3s. From a Power conference. He was going to be in demand. And he was. Teams like Arizona, Kentucky, Oregon and others all contacted him. He took plenty of visits.

It was clear that Johnson was looking to play at a big name school where he would get plenty of exposure.

But a funny thing has happened. A lot of those big schools haven’t waited for him. They’ve made him wait for them. Arizona fell of the board this week when Rawle Alkins decided to withdraw from the NBA draft and return for his sophomore year. Kentucky is slow playing him.

Those two years are double-edged for the bigger programs. It is a bigger commitment then simply going with a regular grad transfer who is only there for one year.

And very quietly Cam Johnson had sought to expand his potential schools to include ones in the ACC. It may no longer be an official conference rule barring in-conference transfers, but Pitt and basketball coach Kevin Stallings (like most schools) put that restriction on his transfer. He appealed to the school, and was given permission to talk to them, but if he wished to transfer he would have to sit a year — like a regular transfer.

This explains how, suddenly last week, Cam Johnson was being linked to North Carolina. Of course, both UNC and Johnson don’t want to have the restriction of sitting out a year.

This means putting some public pressure — making the restriction known — on Pitt and Stallings to remove the restriction. Which may explain some more context of Stallings complaining in his interview a couple weeks ago about media pressure on coaches over releasing kids from NLIs and transfers. Odds are, Cam Johnson was in the midst of the appeal at that point. I had assumed it was mostly about releasing Aaron Thompson from his NLI.

Stallings is in a bind mostly of his own making. His treatment of Sheldon Jeter those many years ago still haunts. The actions there, still remain indefensible. The in-conference restriction is hardly outrageous in college sports, but Stallings has less room to move.

I’m also a bit surprised to see UNC and Roy Williams pursue Cam Johnson like this. Williams is good friends with Stallings. Williams was one of Stallings’ mentors and had Stallings as a lead assistant for several years at Kansas. He knows the history of Stallings and transfer issues. He knows that UNC going for Johnson will be bad for Stallings on several levels. Yet, there he is, going after Johnson. And this is why folks in Raleigh and Durham get chaffed at the whole folksy, “Ol Roy” schtick. Don’t ever buy into the narrative of coaching — at this level — being anything but cutthroat and the bottom line.

There is a certain inevitability to seeing the restrictions removed, though.

Other schools have previously attempted to prevent their players from transferring to opposing schools within their conference or on their future schedules, or to schools others believe may have tampered with a player. Examples include Michigan with Spike Albrecht and Ricky Doyle, as well as Washington State and Valentine Izundu in 2016, Memphis and Austin Nichols in 2015 and Wisconsin and Jarrod Uthoff in 2012.

Each decision faced public backlash, followed by the removal of most, if not all, of the restrictions. Pittsburgh has already backtracked some, allowing Johnson to contact ACC schools, but if the past is any indication of the future, the university may lift any remaining restrictions due to public outrage.

This weekend ESPN analyst Jay Bilas took up the cause. Here’s, by-and-large, the collected tweets. This is one of Bilas’ favorite causes. The issue of players as chattel. Bilas regularly rails on the NCAA collectively over how players are restricted and controlled. And when a player gets restricted by a school on transfers he is happy to make that part of the overall narrative.  He puts Pitt on blast.

That caused Pitt fans on Twitter to respond with anger at Bilas. As you would expect. If you look at his tweets, Kevin Stallings isn’t mentioned once. It is all about Pitt and the institutions in general. There’s no specifying the individuals involved for a couple of reasons. But you attack the school, you are attacking the fans.

Bilas, like most analysts, is very friendly with the people he covers — the coaches in particular. So, he doesn’t want to have to attack the Stallings or any of the coaches if he can avoid it. If the coaches choose to hide behind school/NCAA policies for their own actions, Bilas is more than happy to let them and just go after the school or NCAA rather then hold the coaches accountable.

Bilas is a lawyer by trade, and that is important in looking at what he is doing. He is making his case. In his view, he doesn’t have to be fair or look at the other side. He simply has to advocate his position and let others do the work of countering him. He’s not going to back down from his position. Odds are, he won’t even concede a point.

For making the case, it is far easier to attack institutions or organizations then to target an individual. A nice vague, faceless enemy. It’s why propaganda tries to demonize groups or some collective rather then a single person or a few people.

Best not to take it personally. It’s going to suck for a little while.

Can’t support Stallings on this. These coaches are not gods. This is Cam’s life. If it was my son and he wanted to go to UNC, I would be all over Stallings; at his house if need be.

Johnson graduated from PITT. Thank you very much. Where is it written any body at PITT has a right to control his life any further?

His contractual obligation with PITT is over. He doesn’t need permission to transfer. He is continuing his studies at another institution and the NCAA says he has 2 yrs left to play intercollegiate basketball.

Case closed!

Comment by Old Pitt Grad 05.23.17 @ 8:19 pm


Why are we loosing comments after a number have been recorded here???????

Comment by Old Pitt Grad 05.23.17 @ 8:22 pm

Old Pitt Grad …. i don’t know the rules but if in fact, the “contractual obligation” is over .. then Cam wouldn’t even need to speak to Pitt. Something must require Pitt’s say so .. anyone ?

Comment by Tomas 05.23.17 @ 10:06 pm

Obviously, Pitt can limit gard transfers just like they can regular transfers.

Once again …. virtually EVERY conference in the NCAA has bylaws which restricts regular transfers from moving within the conference by imposing a 2-year wait. (n reality … an extra year wait.)

There are good reasons for this … and it should also apply to grad transfers.

Comment by wbb 05.24.17 @ 7:19 am

The ACC does not. This is a Pitt “policy”. UNC has recently let a football player transfer in conference to UVA and he played against them the following season. UNC isn’t being hypocritical in asking Pitt to do the same.

The rules may exist for a reason but if you look at it case by case, this one should be an exception.

Even if the conferences have rules, they’re beginning to be more flexible.

See … link to

“In the Big Ten, a move within the league is punitive. Prior to 2011-12, a transfer within the league was unable to receive a scholarship and had to sit out a season. The rule was altered starting with the 2011-12 season. Now, an athlete can receive a scholarship but loses a year of eligibility in addition to sitting out a season.

Still, in recent years, the Big Ten has seen some high-profile players move within the conference. Jarrod Uthoff went from Wisconsin to Iowa in a much-discussed move; last season, as a graduate transfer, Max Bielfeldt went from Michigan to Indiana. And now we have Spike Albrecht, another graduate transfer, matriculating from Michigan to Purdue.

The former Wolverine will be immediately eligible to play his final season if he secures a waiver from the Big Ten due to his transfer within the conference. It was not an issue last year for Bielfeldt, who received such a waiver last year. “

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 05.24.17 @ 8:34 am

Believe the grad transfer rule is fairly recent whereby they do not have to sit out a year like undergrad transfers.

Appears there is concern among many that what is happening are undergrad transfers pick up their 24 or so yearly credits while sitting out and then later graduate with eligibility remaining and can/do transfer to a bigger program to finish their eligibility on a larger stage.

Most of the transfers are up from smaller schools kind of making the mid majors a farm system of sorts for the power schools. The mid majors see their programs weakened while the power schools plug holes for a year or so.

I believe something like 30-35% of the grad transfers actually complete their studies. Maybe the NCAA should consider tightening this rule by limiting schools ability of taking grad transfers if few of those transfers actually complete work at that particular school.

Thinking out loud and off to work. H2P

Comment by Manhattan Panther 05.24.17 @ 8:56 am

Even if Pitt has a right to do it, it doesn’t make it right.

Pitt fans are scorned. I think it was Chas who put it best. Pitt fans saw the Bilas tweet and the subsequent CBB reporters who jumped on the bandwagon as attacks on Pitt. They weren’t. They were attacks on the policy that Pitt is trying to enforce. It’s different. These writers put everyone on blast for this. Pitt just got called out this time.

Take being a Pitt fan out of it. Take UNC and their National Championship out of it.

Is it fair to block a kid who graduated from a team that the coach who recruited him left and a roster that will have 90%+ turnover … then add in that he’s turned into a potential NBA talent meaning he should be playing for someone who gets his players to the NBA????

Under certain circumstances, maybe. But with the current iteration of Pitt basketball, and into the short-term foreseeable future, Pitt will not be competitive.

Cam going to UNC helps him and does not hurt Pitt. UNC didn’t actively recruit him. Cam didn’t get in contact with UNC until Pitt granted him permission. It’s not going to affect the competitive balance of the two teams. There is no logical reason to block him except to be spiteful.

And there have been plenty of spiteful comments on here. Pitt always gets screwed. Cam is being selfish. Everyone else has a similar policy. Why is Pitt being singled out? Blah blah blah.

There has not been one concrete argument against allowing Cam to go except that certain peopler are scorned Pitt fans, which, I’m sorry, is not a reason to screw with a kids future.

Especially, a kid who is a Pitt grad.

Stallings is a dick.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 05.24.17 @ 9:18 am

Compliance Heather has no clout and is a controlled puppet. If it wasn’t obvious before look at her following the rules and keeping Stage 5 Cancer Stallings.

Comment by Upittbaseball 05.24.17 @ 7:55 pm

Tone deaf a little bit, Pitt? Is anyone in the BOT’s sphere reading the negative press? And do they care? Talk amongst yourselves.

Comment by Tony77019 06.01.17 @ 5:41 pm

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