By now you've likely heard the story of Appalachian State and Devonte' Graham. Graham signed with the Mountaineers last November and after an impressive senior campaign he started to receive offers from bigger programs like Connecticut, Creighton, Rhode Island, and Pittsburgh.
Appalachian State and Jason Capel decided not to release Graham from his Letter of Intent and Graham has essentially been labeled as a hostage by various media outlets. Right now he plans to attend Brewster Academy in New York to further enhance his stock, but he still cannot leave his commitment with App State. As one college coach put it to SNY.tv:
"Unless Appalachian State decides to release him we're all wasting our time,"
So Appalachian State responded to the media outrage with a statement today:
We take particular exception to the unsubstantiated and irresponsible opinion of some media members that we are holding a student-athlete "hostage." With his family's blessing and support, Devonte Graham willingly and excitedly chose to sign a National Letter of Intent with Appalachian State last November after having the opportunity to be recruited by 351 NCAA Division I programs.
Furthermore, if he thought that a more desirable situation might arise in the future, he also had the option to wait until the late signing period in April to make his college choice. Since he chose to sign a binding Letter of Intent with Appalachian State, we stopped recruiting a large number of student-athletes at his position in his class who would have been grateful for the opportunity to receive a full scholarship to attend and play basketball at our great institution.
As our coaching staff fully expected, Devonte had a terrific senior season last winter and, accordingly, drew the interest of programs from what are widely recognized as "power conferences." However, due to his binding agreement with Appalachian State, other programs were not permitted by NCAA rules to contact him, be it directly or through people claiming to represent his interests. Due to our concerns that these rules were not followed and the fact that we had turned away all other potential student-athletes that could have capably filled his spot on the roster, we denied his request for a release from his binding Letter of Intent.
We also made the NCAA aware of our concerns.
While we understand that it is en vogue [sic] for the media to hammer away at the perceived bureaucracy of the NCAA, recruiting rules and guidelines are in place to protect student-athletes and NCAA institutions alike. Without them, recruiting would be utter chaos. All of that being said, the situation is now in the hands of the NCAA and will be resolved by its governance. Therefore, we will not have any further comment on the matter.
This is still a war that will play out in the public court of opinion and I'm not so sure that Mountaineers helped themselves out today.