Cameron Johnson should sue Pitt for his unconditional release.
Now the story has gone public and Pitt is in a giant conundrum over telling one of its graduates what he can and cannot do with his career. Pitt has blocked Johnson from going to a school within the ACC without sitting out a year and losing one of the two seasons of eligibility he has remaining. Johnson was sidelined with a medical red-shirt as a freshman and then graduated in three years.
Pitt is keeping Johnson from transferring to North Carolina, which is apparently his top choice. Since the news has leaked out about the restriction, the national media has jumped all over the story. So has Jay Bilas, an attorney, weighing in with his legal opinion.
Pitt coach Kevin Stallings, who went 16-17 in his first season with the Panthers after breaking his contract at Vanderbilt and leaving, is good friends with Roy Williams and was UNC assistant Brad Frederick’s boss for 14 years at Vandy. It may be new Pitt Athletic Director Heather Lyke, who did not hire Stallings, trying to prove she’s a tough boss and doesn’t want a former player in a Tar Heel uniform when Carolina plays Pitt this coming season.
The whole thing is absurd. Besides the NCAA supposedly wanting what’s best for all of its student athletes, Pitt isn’t beating UNC with or without Johnson playing for the Heels. So how can Lyke even restrict a player who has already graduated from her school?
Sure, Johnson can go to UCLA, Arizona, Oregon, TCU or any of the other schools he’s visited, but he wants to enhance his career by playing for this blue blood and spend his last two seasons under Williams at Carolina. The Tar Heels want him to step into Justin Jackson’s position, and Johnson should be able to go where he wants unrestricted. Remember, it’s what is best for the student-athlete.
Now that the story is out, Pitt and Lyke will be under tremendous pressure to release Johnson unconditionally to all conferences and schools, including UNC. If not, Johnson should sue his alma mater this summer for that right. He would win in a quick decision, if Pitt doesn’t see the writing on the wall first and cave.
Photo via Todd Melet