According to a report that was released Tuesday, Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings and a handful of former players are not happy with Kyle Fuller's decision to write a tell-all book that will document his time at the university. In fact, they may be playing dirty in order to keep him from releasing it.
Deadspin's Diana Moskovitz published an expose that details how several members of the Commodore basketball program are allegedly trying to prevent Fuller's book from seeing the light of day. Her report details texts that Stallings allegedly sent to Fuller's mother, emails and texts from basketball operations director Dan Cage, and a statement from Vice Chancellor David Williams himself.
What was Vandy so afraid of? In the end, it seems like nothing much more than the idea that Fuller's book might expose something everyone already knows—that Vanderbilt athletes are not necessarily chaste scholars who fit extracurricular activities in between rounds of studying Themistocles and the Planck constant—and in so doing tarnish the image of its athletic programs. This image, which is worth millions of dollars, depends on the acceptance of a series of polite fictions for its maintenance; the irony of this story is that it's the way Vanderbilt defended it, much more than anything Kyle Fuller ever did, that best shows just how fictitious they are.
The report suggests that Stallings's messages to Mrs. Fuller had a significant effect on Kyle, but ultimately failed to derail the Kickstarter he launched in order to gain financial backing for publishing. His project is currently $9,000 short of the goal needed to get Below the Rim bound and distributed - though there are fewer than 32 hours left for him to raise that money as of 1:30pm CST. However, criticism from Vandy basketball alumni - and one critic who emailed his girlfriend excerpts from the book - may have had an even bigger impact on the former Commodore than Stallings's texts.
Within days more texts poured in, mostly former Vanderbilt players telling Fuller to stop. Castro said he saw a Snapchat to Fuller from one former player now in the NBA showing his screen with a copy of what they wrote on it. Someone also sent a copy to the father of the girl whom Fuller was dating, and she immediately dumped him. That was probably the worst thing, the co-authors said. Fuller had been dating the woman for a few months, and it had started to get serious.
We spoke with Kyle this fall, and the former point guard was direct in his assertion that his book would not throw Vanderbilt or the basketball program under the bus:
If these allegations are true, it seems as though Kevin Stallings is doing everything in his power to keep Kyle Fuller from going forward with his tell-all. However, it's tough to ignore the timing of this story. Deadspin's report comes at a time when Fuller's Kickstarter is going through it's final push, and he needs approximately $9,000 in donations to secure the backing he needs to go to print. If these discussions, texts, and emails came in August and September, why is this story breaking in December?
It's clear that this has become an issue with the Vanderbilt administration. The texts and emails Fuller and his team have provided to Moskovitz back that up. The university has been quiet in their response so far. We've reached out to the basketball staff for a comment, and we'll update the story as we hear more.
Update: A Vanderbilt student athlete who wished to remain anonymous adds his/her thoughts:
The Vandy athlete community is really tight- that being a result of how small we are, and how hard being a student at Vandy is. We eat all of our meals together in the Hendrix room, and support each other at each other's events... etc....The reason no one wants his book to get out is because it makes us look bad (Vandy athletes are smart and don't want to be associated with idiocy- his book downgrades the value of a Vandy education), and almost none of it is true. Stuff like this doesn't happen at Vandy, and if it did, it wouldn't happen to a guy like Kyle. So, if everyone could disregard what Kyle said (like we have been doing since he got here), that would be great. Go Dores.
Update 2: Co-author Eric Schulman comments on the timing of Deadspin's article:
This story has been in the works for over a month - five weeks now. Deadspin's fact checking process has been long and thorough, which led to the delay in getting Kyle's story published.
Update 3: Daniel Marks, who was one of Vanderbilt Basketball's team managers while Fuller was a member of the team, refutes Fuller's Deadspin story on Twitter:
Now that Kyle was cut from the DLeague, and his kickstarter is on the verge of not getting funded, he's trying to.bring down good ppl w/him— Daniel Marks (@dgm591) December 16, 2014
Im sick to my stomach about all of this because its NOT TRUE. I cant let him be the only voice on this and get away w/trying to destroy ppl— Daniel Marks (@dgm591) December 16, 2014