Sheldon Jeter's path to Pittsburgh will still have one big roadblock - his former coach Kevin Stallings. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ray Fittipaldo reported today that Jeter's appeal to Vanderbilt officials to lift the limitation that Stallings put on his transfer was denied.
Former Vanderbilt basketball player Sheldon Jeter ... said today his appeal to Vanderbilt officials to be released to the University of Pittsburgh has been denied.
This development is the latest in a back-and-forth affair that evidently started well before Jeter officially announced his intentions to leave Nashville. Jeter decided to leave the program for "personal reasons," but became the first player to have his transfer destination publicly blocked by Stallings and the Vanderbilt coaching staff. Other transfers, like Andre Walker's move to Xavier in his senior season, had come and went without a hitch during the prickly coach's long tenure.
Stallings has been quiet about the denial, but rumors have spread quickly about the team's motivations. Jeter, who grew up just outside of Pittsburgh and had allegedly viewed the Panthers as his top choice coming out of high school, was not offered a scholarship as a senior baller in Beaver Falls. That led him to Vanderbilt, where a successful freshman season put hope in the Commodores' rebuilding efforts. During that span, four new scholarships opened up at Pitt thanks to various reasons, creating space for a talented wing player who helped spur Vandy's late season rally. At this point, we dive into speculation.
Rumors of improper contact have floated around this story since Jeter's official decision to leave Nashville. While the university and the forward announced his departure on May 17th, Pitt message boards began to float the rumor that he was leaving for the Panthers a full 10 days earlier. That speculation led to some unfounded accusations of tampering, but there has been no definitive proof behind these accusations.
Another issue that may play a role is how Jeter left the team. ESPN's Eamonn Brennan suggested that Jeter announced his departure from Vanderbilt before even sitting down with his coach, which may have led to some hostility between the two parties. Pitt blog Pitt Blather shoots down that rumor effectively, but it's possible that events that took place before Jeter's Twitter announcement could have soured his relationship with the team.
Without much input from any of the parties involved, there isn't much to do with this scenario other than speculate. Vanderbilt, Pittsburgh, and Jeter have all been tight lipped on the situation, and it's impressive how little information has been leaked on the matter in the weeks since it has developed. With his appeals to Vanderbilt exhausted, it's unclear what the next step is for Jeter. He can be a scholarship player at any school that will take him except for Pittsburgh. If he truly wants to be a Panther, he can pay his own tuition for a year and then be eligible for a team scholarship in 2014-2015.
For now, Jeter hasn't told anyone what his next plans are. He told Fittipaldo that he couldn't answer any questions about his next destination so far. He'll certainly have plenty to think about when it comes to making a decision over where he'll play out the next three years of his college career.
There hasn't been much resolution in a story that has made all three parties involved look bad. It looks like Vanderbilt will stick to its guns and continue with a transfer limitation that the team had never had a problem with in the past. That certainly suggests that there is much more to the story than meets the eye. Unfortunately, until Stallings, Jeter, or the Pittsburgh athletic department open up to the media, we'll just have to continue to put the pieces of this puzzle together on our own.