The irony is unmistakable.
Vanderbilt football fans were irate this week over Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy's decision to block quarterback Wes Lunt from transferring to any school in the SEC. Now Commodores basketball coach Kevin Stallings appears to be doing the same thing to a transfer from his own program.
Stallings is blocking rising sophomore forward Sheldon Jeter from transferring to Pitt, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Tuesday. Jeter, a Pennsylvania native, announced Friday he was leaving Vanderbilt to transfer to a school closer to home, citing personal issues as the reason for his departure.
The Jeter family is appealing to Vanderbilt's athletic department to overturn Stallings' ruling, Pantherlair.com reported Tuesday. If Jeter loses that appeal, he can enroll at Pitt and pay tuition for one year before being put on scholarship or he can transfer to a school other than Pitt.
That Stallings would attempt to block Jeter's transfer only reinforces how disappointed the Vanderbilt coach was to lose a key piece of the Commodores' rebuilding efforts. Jeter averaged 5.5 points and 3.4 rebounds as a freshman, showing comfort in the paint and on the perimeter and emerging as a likely starter next season had he remained.
Nonetheless, just because Stallings is frustrated at losing a key player doesn't make it right for him to impede Jeter's quest to find a school that's a better fit, especially if there's no evidence Pittsburgh tampered in this instance. Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan learned this the hard way last year when his attempt to block Jarrod Uthoff's transfer to numerous schools resulted in national outcry.
Stallings is risking taking a public relations hit here as well unless he reverses course.
Just like college coaches leave their programs for higher-profile or better-fitting jobs all the time, college players should be able to do the same.