When Kevin Stallings blocked Sheldon Jeter's transfer to Pittsburgh earlier this week, things seemed a bit fishy. After all, Stallings had allowed five different players to leave Vanderbilt in recent years without any reported restrictions.
While Stallings and Vanderbilt have remained silent on the issue, rumors of a possible tampering issue have risen. It's unlikely that many details bubble up to the surface in what has become an acrimonious split between Jeter and the university. However, some posts on Pittsburgh message boards suggest that a move to the Panthers may have been in the works for the young forward well in advance of his transfer announcement.
On May 5, PanthersPrey writer Chris Dokish reported that Jeter was one of coach Jamie Dixon's targets for 2013:
This was backed up by a post on Rivals site PanthersLair two days later. Commenters there speculated on Jeter's future, suggesting that his move to Pittsburgh was a near certainty:
Sheldon Jeter -Has anyone heard that he is coming as well?- PittFan57, 5/7/13
Sheldon Jeter -Yes, from two impeccable sources. He will be a Panther!!!It was reported last night exclusively on Sports Radio 96.7, WLLF on "The Pic Sportsline."- MerCoFan, 5/7/13
For reference, Jeter announced that he'd be leaving Vanderbilt on May 17th. Despite flying under the radar in Nashville, fans in Pittsburgh seemed to know about Jeter's departure 10 full days before it became official. While that's not evidence of tampering, it does seem fishy. It certainly suggests that there is more than meets the eye behind Stallings's move to block the sophomore's transfer to Pittsburgh.
However, it's difficult to take message board discussions too seriously, so it's tricky to infer exactly what this means. Dokish's claims seem to back up Jeter's status as one of Dixon's key targets for next year. He reportedly failed to garner a scholarship with the Panthers two years ago because he was thought to be "too soft" for the Big East. Was his year of growth in Nashville enough to put him back on Pitt's radar? Would Dixon and his staff be brash enough to contact the young player after his 2012-2013 season ended?
Again, there's no way to know exactly what happened right now - but there is certainly more to the story than the facts presented currently show us.
Writer/analyst Jason Fukuda contributed to this article.