In another example of the NCAA and the schools under its blanket overreaching their powers into the lives of college athletes, Pittsburgh Panthers’ coach Kevin Stallings has decided to block the transfer of graduate athlete Cam Johnson to the University of North Carolina.
After the 6’7″ guard, who averaged 11.9 points per game last season, showed interest in joining the Tar Heels basketball team to play immediately this season, Pittsburgh released this statement about their decision.
“We have remained consistent with our athletic department policy, within NCAA legislation, stipulating student-athletes are restricted from transferring to institutions within the Atlantic Coast Conference and those on our schedule over the next season. Cameron Johnson and his father were informed of our policy as well as the appeals process when they elected to seek to transfer. They went through our transfer appeals process and were granted permission to contact ACC schools however, the committee upheld the policy to limit immediate eligibility within the conference. If Cameron were to transfer within the ACC, he would be eligible to receive financial aid immediately but would have to sit out a year of competition due to standard NCAA transfer regulations. Throughout this process, we have remained consistent to our department policy and we will continue to do so. “
The problem with this decision by the University of Pittsburgh is that it infringes upon the rights of an athlete that has already put four years of service into the college. Cameron Johnson has already graduated from the University, along with playing 3 full seasons for the basketball team. To block him from transferring anywhere is to step in the dangerous area of deciding the rights of an athlete, who has already earned them, for himself.
Things could possibly be different, had Johnson’s situation been closer to someone in the likes of Duke’s Harry Giles or even Kyrie Irving. Both of these athletes notably missed a majority of their freshman seasons before deciding to enter the NBA Draft. In this case, it does at least seem that the athletic program was shorted in the deal, but that is not the case with a graduate transfer like Johnson.
However, this is not the first time that Stallings has had his hand in blocking a student-athlete from transferring to another university. Stallings, at Vanderbilt at the time, refused to allow Sheldon Jeter to transfer to Pittsburgh (How ironic) in 2013 and eventually only allowed it upon the terms that Jeter would spend a semester at a junior college in Florida.
The fact of the matter is that Stallings has a track record for reaching past his own rights into the freedom of student athletes and it only adds to the debate of the NCAA’s seeming “ownership” of the athletes. Cameron Johnson has paid his dues to the University by earning a degree and has all right to transfer anywhere that he can.
To add to the news of NCAA overreach, Duke University recently released a statement that they restricted where quarterback Thomas Sirk, who will be playing at the University of East Carolina next season, could transfer. Their statement can be found below and is just as questionable as Pitt’s on Cam Johnson.
“Duke’s restrictions for Thomas Sirk comprised ACC schools and the four 2017 non-league opponents primarily due to the potential competitive disadvantage created due to Sirk’s thorough knowledge of the entire Duke program.”
In other words, “One athlete could compromise our chances of winning, so we will instead block him from furthering his athletic AND academic future, so as to not risk the chance of losing.” Just another example of the freedom of an athlete decided by the overarching power of the NCAA.