Pitt's Johnson to transfer to North Carolina to play basketball
Cam Johnson, one of several players to leave the Pitt basketball program after last season, will enroll at North Carolina and join the defending national champion Tar Heels, Johnson's father, Gil, said Tuesday.
Pitt was attempting to block Johnson, a sophomore who graduated this year, from transferring to another ACC school or a school on Pitt's schedule without sitting out one season.
After an appeals hearing last month, Pitt allowed Johnson to receive financial aid from those schools.
In a letter to Johnson, Pitt's acting NCAA faculty athletics representative, James J. Irrgang, noted the school was making an exception because Johnson graduated summa cum laude in three years.
But the school maintained its right to force him to miss the upcoming basketball season.
Gil Johnson said, however, he was told by conference and NCAA officials that Pitt cannot legally restrict Johnson from transferring and playing immediately because he has graduated.
When asked Tuesday for a response to Johnson's claim, Pitt officials, through an athletic department spokesman, said the NCAA is investigating the specifics of the case.
“The University of Pittsburgh followed the NCAA processes and our institutional policies as they are written,” the statement reads. “The NCAA is currently evaluating the graduate transfer rule and its application to this situation. We are awaiting their response.”
Previously, Pitt stated it is within its rights to restrict Johnson's possible transfer destinations.
Johnson said he plans to contest that ruling. Asked if he believes his son will be eligible for the 2017-18 season, Johnson said, “I don't know for sure right now.”
But he added, “(North Carolina) Coaches sent me proof.”
In a statement of his own, Cam Johnson noted former Pitt basketball coach Jamie Dixon and former athletic director Scott Barnes left the school while under contract.
“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?” Cam wrote.
Johnson, who went to Our Lady of Sacred Heart, would have been Pitt's leading returning scorer.
He played in all 33 games while Pitt finished with its first losing record (16-17) since 2000.
After losing four seniors to graduation, five transfers and one player who was dismissed by coach Kevin Stallings, only three players are scheduled to return from that team.
Johnson averaged 11.9 points and led the Panthers in 3-point field goal percentage (41.5) and steals (31) while recording twice as many assists (77) as turnovers (38).