If anyone has cared to follow the soap opera at North Texas involving quarterback Giovanni Vizza's sudden decision to leave the football program on Sunday night, here's the latest.
So far, Vizza's father, Matt, is doing all the talking. Amazing the control college athletes -- grown men and women -- cede to their parents in these situations. Anyway, story in today's San Antonio Express-News includes Matt Vizza saying two Big 12 schools and four others in the Championship Subdivision (used to be Division I-AA) have been in contact with Giovanni Vizza. It should be noted that the statement is an indirect quote but still attributed to Matt Vizza.
Tonight, UNT athletic director Rick Villarreal said Vizza has yet to be released from his UNT scholarship, often a formality. Athletes with remaining eligibility wishing to transfer must obtain a release (usually with conditions on where they can transfer) to compete on scholarship at another institution. Otherwise, it's on the athlete's nickel at the next school for a year.
So, when Matt Vizza says contact has been made with six other insititutions, it sends up red flags everywhere. First, NCAA Division I Manual Bylaw 126.96.36.199, in summary, says such contact between a prospective transfer and an institution is prohibited, regardless of who initiates it first, when a release has not been obtained from the original insitution's athletic department.
Maybe the Vizzas made some calls, but I'll bet dollars to doughnuts none of those six schools lifted a finger to go an inch further without a release from UNT or were willing to risk hot water with the NCAA. If any did, the NCAA deserves an explanation from Matt Vizza this second.
Slightly more comical is another statement by Matt Vizza (again indirectly quoted) that a decision on a new school is forthcoming no later than Thursday. With no release -- it won't magically appear by Thursday, either -- forget it.
It's quite a calculated risk Matt Vizza appears to be taking by putting his son out there with these untenable claims of legitimate contact. I hope, in time, there's real interest out there for Giovanni Vizza to join another program, but the way he and his father have gone about gauging it so far couldn't be much more sloppy or awkward.