Guard Cam Johnson fought with the University of Pittsburgh’s athletic department for two months to secure a full release prior to his transfer to North Carolina. Just three days after the sharpshooter sent out a lengthy statement to media members, announcing his transfer to UNC and calling out the hypocritical Pittsburgh administration, the school granted him a full release.
Johnson announced his intentions to transfer on April 1 and spent the following month-and-a-half visiting recruiting programs. When he elected to play for North Carolina, the Panthers, a fellow ACC program, attempted to wave his redshirt season in his face and claim he would have to sit out a year if he transferred in-conference. While this is typically the case for fourth-year players, Johnson graduated from Pittsburgh in May, supposedly nullifying NCAA undergraduate transfer restrictions. After a healthy dose of negative PR in the wake of his open letter, the university caved, granting him a full release Thursday evening.
Upon announcing Johnson’s release, the Panthers released the following statement, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, in which the athletic department attempts to blame outdated NCAA graduate transfer rules as undercutting the school’s own outdated graduate transfer rules.
This past week, the NCAA issued an official interpretation of the rules regarding graduate transfers. Under this interpretation, a graduate student who is not granted a full release from his undergraduate institution is permanently ineligible, unable to receive athletics aid and unable to serve a year of residence.
This interpretation presents unduly restrictive eligibility stipulations on graduate transfers that do not exist with other transfer students.
The general transfer rules are less restrictive and would allow a student-athlete the opportunity to immediately receive athletics aid, continue his graduate education for two years and still have the opportunity to compete after serving a year in residence. Therefore, given this NCAA interpretation, we have decided to take a less restrictive approach and grant Cameron Johnson the opportunity to transfer to another ACC school with immediate eligibility for competition.
We were proud to have Cameron as a student-athlete and are now proud to have him as a graduate of our institution. We wish him the very best as he pursues his graduate degree.
While the NCAA does bear a portion of the blame—mainly for allowing schools and conferences to implement policies that hold athletes hostage—the end result in this case, much like the recent Kansas State football case, was a mostly positive one. The school was properly shamed and the athlete—or free agent, some might call him—was allowed access to the full market of teams. The only shitty part is that North Carolina is going to be good as hell again.