Tra'Von Chapman dismissed from Pitt football team
By Jerry DiPaola
Published: Friday, Aug. 23, 2013, 11:00 a.m.
Pitt's dismissal of freshman quarterback Tra'Von Chapman on Friday represents the fourth time this year the school has cut ties with a player who could have helped the program.
Chapman, who spent three days in jail last month after pleading guilty to an April attempted assault on a former girlfriend in Kent, Ohio, was one of the prized recruits of Pitt's class of 2013 — the first assembled entirely by coach Paul Chryst.
Chapman, a four-star recruit, joins running back Rushel Shell, the gem of the 2012 recruiting class, among a group of former Pitt players who ran afoul of Chryst's and the school's standards and were not welcomed to return.
Shell left the team in March, but expressed a desire to come back three months later when he decided Pitt was his best option.
Chryst never considered that possibility, and Shell subsequently enrolled at West Virginia.
Pitt also dismissed tight end Drew Carswell and safety Eric Williams after they were charged with a drug offense in April. Both have joined the team at Division II Indiana (Pa.)
In the case of Chapman, Chryst huddled with top university officials, including Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg and athletic director Steve Pederson, before announcing a decision, a university source said. They were conflicted because Chapman had no criminal record in his past. He graduated early from Theodore Roosevelt High School in Kent, enrolled at Pitt in January and participated in spring drills. Several people close to him, including Pitt coaches, believed he was a high-character player.
In the end, the nature of his crime — and the guilty plea that led to a jail term — were decisive factors for the university.
“We believe it is in everyone's best interest that Tra'Von pursue his academic and athletic careers at another institution,” Chryst said in a statement. “We wish him the best.”
Chapman was not available for comment.
His father, Thad Jemison, a former wide receivers coach at Kent State, said he was disappointed in the timing of the dismissal, coming three days before the start of Pitt's new semester and at the end of training camp for most college teams.
“He did something wrong; don't get me wrong,” Jemison said. “He made a bad decision.
“But don't string the kid out. The same information they had when he first went to the hearing (July 29) is the same information they have now. If they are going to make this decision, they could have made it three weeks ago.”
Jemison and Chapman's mother, Vickie Chapman, said they have placed multiple phone calls to Chryst that were not returned.
The next step for Chapman will be to find another school. Jemison said Friday afternoon that he hadn't been contacted by anyone.
“But I've got people in my circle that are out there and looking,” he said. “We don't know which direction we'll go in, but he will be somewhere.”
Jemison said he hopes schools will feel comfortable giving Chapman a second chance. When he was in high school, he had offers from at least 10 other schools, including Arizona, Wisconsin, Illinois and Northwestern.
“You hope that they give him a clean slate because everyone makes mistakes,” Jemison said. “He's paid for it. Now it's time to move on. What people don't understand is that's the first time we've ever been inside a courtroom.”
Note: Senior cornerback E.J. Banks, a Montour graduate who joined Pitt as a walk-on from Notre Dame in 2011, was awarded a scholarship for this season.
Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.
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