(Photo: Tommy Gilligan, USA TODAY Sports)
Cam Johnson, the sought-after graduate transfer from the University of Pittsburgh, has finally chosen his next school from an array of suitors: North Carolina.
Now the pertinent question becomes: Will he see the court for the Tar Heels this coming season?
Normally, this wouldn’t even be a question. Graduate transfers typically play immediately at any school of their choosing — but in this case, Pitt decided to place a restriction on Johnson that would force him to burn one of his two remaining years of eligibility (he graduated in three years, playing two of them, from Pitt) and sit out next season if he wishes to transfer to a fellow Atlantic Coast Conference school.
Johnson, a 6-8 wing who averaged nearly 12 points a game for the Panthers during his redshirt sophomore year last season, appears ready to fight his former school on this count.
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In a statement released to the Raleigh News & Observer on Tuesday, Johnson added to his already compelling case for immediate eligibility:
“On June 2, I was informed that the NCAA had determined that Pitt’s attempt to make me ‘serve a year of residence prior to being eligible for competition’ does not apply to graduate transfers per bylaw 14.6.1.,” Johnson wrote. “According to the NCAA, this bylaw means graduate transfers must be immediately eligible or totally denied from attending a school. Having already won the right to “immediately receive athletically related financial aid” from an ACC institution at my appeal hearing, I believe, as does my family’s legal counsel, that I should be immediately eligible at North Carolina.”
In the lengthy statement, Johnson went on to point out that during his three years at Pitt he had a coach (Jamie Dixon) leave for TCU, a coach (Kevin Stallings) who left Vanderbilt to come to Pitt, an athletic director (Scott Barnes) leave for Oregon State, an athletic director (Heather Lyke) who left Eastern Michigan to come to Pitt and an associate athletic director leave for another school.
“All five of these individual left their jobs under contract and all had the freedom to move as they pleased,” Johnson wrote. “As a student-athlete, who is not a paid employee of the school, and a graduate, shouldn’t I be granted the same freedom of movement?”