Former Vanderbilt forward Sheldon Jeter received a lot of attention in the aftermath of his decision to leave the SEC school after one season. Jeter’s hope was to transfer to a school closer to his Beaver Falls, Pa. home, with many expected him to wind up at Pittsburgh. One problem: Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings refused to release Jeter to Pitt, meaning that in order to attend the ACC school Jeter would have to pay his own way for a year.
On Friday it was reported by Mike DeCourcy of the Sporting News that Jeter will attend Polk State College in Florida this year, deciding not to play for the basketball team in order to preserve a year of eligibility.
And no, Polk State is not closer to Beaver Falls than Vanderbilt, but this was the best option for Jeter and his family given the hand they were dealt.
Like other college coaches, Stallings has the ability to change jobs more or less at will, something he did in leaving Illinois State for Vanderbilt back in 1999. Like other college coaches, Stallings also has the authority to deny the ability of his players to transfer to any particular college for whatever whim suits him.
Precisely why Stallings refused to allow Jeter a release to Pitt is difficult to establish, because Stallings consistently has declined opportunities to discuss his position – through a spokesman, he presented a no-comment to Sporting News on Friday – and the Jeter family has declined to go public with details of what they’ve been through.
When news first broke in the spring that Stallings refused to grant Jeter a release to Pittsburgh there was the thought that some tampering may have occurred, thus prompting the head coach to make that decision. But according to DeCourcy both schools discussed things and acknowledged that there was no tampering.
So what gives?
Jeter will practice with the team at Polk State, and the fact that two cousins are members of the program should help him from a familiarity standpoint. But in a system in which scholarships are one-year renewable (and the player, in most instances, has to sit out a year after transferring) but coaches are allowed to leave for another job whenever they choose, should Jeter’s situation really come down to this?
Unfortunately for Jeter and others, the players don’t exactly hold all of the cards when it comes to the transfer process.