Austin Nichols and his family have hired high-powered attorney Don Jackson to help them fight the restrictions that Memphis placed on the player’s ability to transfer.
Jackson had some choice words for his treatment at Memphis.
“Memphis’ denial of his release is based upon a bad faith effort to deny his request to transfer,” Jackson wrote in an email that was sent to multiple media members on Tuesday. “The current NCAA regulations relative to member institution to member institution transfers violate the Sherman Act (as they illegally affect both the ‘input’ and ‘output’ markets).”
“Further, the restrictions are nothing more than a calculated effort to punish Austin’s family for his desire to transfer to a new program. Although the staff has attempted to imply ‘tampering,’ the broad nature of the restrictions clearly establishes that ‘tampering’ is not an issue; this is a calculated effort by a dysfunctional staff to punish a player for taking a step to remove himself from a failing program.”
Late last month, Nichols, the best player in the Tiger program, requested a release from the school, which was eventually granted with a couple of notable exceptions: anyone on the 2015-16 Memphis schedule as well as Tennessee, Virginia, Iowa and Providence.
Here’s where this story gets interesting. Generally speaking, it’s common practice — and totally unfair — for a school to block anyone in their conference and anyone they’re playing in the near future for transfers. When specific schools are blocked, it’s likely because the former school suspects tampering. Nichols’ sister goes to Tennessee and he’s from the state. It’s not difficult to connect the dots there.
The other three schools are a different story. Virginia, Iowa and Providence are all playing in an early season tournament with Memphis in 2016, but that was simply an excuse to get Virginia on the blocked list. The Cavs and Tony Bennett offered Nichols in high school and were one of the final schools on his list before he committed to Memphis.
The connections run deeper than that. Paul Tudor Jones II, the billionaire that founded Tudor Investments, donated $35 million to Virginia, his alma mater, to help with the construction of Virginia’s new basketball arena. The building, John Paul Jones Arena, is named after his father. Paul Tudor Jones II now lives in Memphis and is reportedly close with Nichols’ former AAU coach.
Once you know all that, it’s not difficult to connect the dots there, either.
For what it’s worth, Nichols would be a terrific fit in Bennett’s front court and defensive system.