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If reports are true, it’s time for Jason Capel to release Devonte Graham

Sep 26, 2013, 1:49 PM EDT

Jason Capel

By now, you should all know that the National Letter of Intent system is incredibly unfair for the athletes that are forced to sign it.

Devonte’ Graham is the latest example.

Graham is a point guard from Raliegh that played for the Garner Road AAU program and, last September, committed to go to Appalachian State. He signed a letter of intent during the early signing period, but after a successful high school season, a couple of bigger schools began poking around. So Graham asked out of his NLI, but Appalachian State head coach Jason Capel refused to give him a release, according to a report from Adam Zagoria.

Graham opted to go to prep school at Brewster Academy instead of enrolling at Appalachian State, and since he’s been there, he’s garnered interest from UConn, Pittsburgh, Creighton, Providence and Rhode Island. But he can’t get a release, so unless he wants to risk sitting out a season and losing a year of eligibility, Graham is in a bind.

If Capel, his head coach, had gotten some interest from a bigger program, he could have up and left without a moment’s notice, which is part of the reason that signing an NLI is so one-sided. It’s a legally binding document that is punitive only if the player decides to leave. Ask Richard Amardi. He signed an NLI with Iowa State, but when they ran out of scholarships, he was kicked to the curb.

The irony here?

If Capel had actually gotten a better job, Graham probably would have been granted a release by now.

Here’s what I don’t understand: why is Capel putting up this much of a fight? Why isn’t he letting Graham go off on his own way? He already forced the kid to delay his enrollment in college for a year by refusing to release him, now he’s going to try to cost the kid a year of eligibility and a redshirt season?

What’s he trying to accomplish? Does he want to burn bridges with Garner Road, one of the stronger AAU programs in the Mid-Atlantic? Is he really that ticked off that a player wants a chance to play in a bigger conference? Is it really worth the negative publicity? And if he eventually gets Graham to come to Appalachian State because he doesn’t want to lose that year, does he really think he’s going to be able to repair that relationship?

I get it, Jason.

You’re mad.

I’d be mad, too.

But it’s time to let it go.

Don’t try and hurt the kid’s career anymore because you feel like you got played. The ‘Vengeful Adult’ is not a role any coach should play.

  1. eagles512 - Sep 26, 2013 at 2:00 PM

    You’d think the school would step in and tell Capel to do the right thing.

    • brianhatfield77 - Oct 3, 2013 at 11:02 PM

      I know this won’t be a popular oppinion but…is not doing the right thing? What happened to the days when your word was all you had. We didn’t need a paper signed to make us do something. Now days…thats all anyone wants. Maybe if his family taught him to honor his word and do things the right way and live with his decisions, right ones and wrong ones. The student athlete would be enrolled at ApSt now.

      I get all you are saying about relationship broken, etc…but players and their parents have choices to make. He made his choice/decision…do the right thing and honor your word. I am sure he didn’t put a gun to his head and make him sing the committment. Is this like saying, “yeah, I stole something but since you caught me…I’ll put it back.” Rules are rules. He decided too early and the gamble didn’t pay off. Learn…today’s instant gratification played a big role. Good job internet…as I sit here typing. lol

      WOW, is it really that complicated?

      Good job Capel, even if it is for the wrong reasons.

  2. grumpyoleman - Sep 26, 2013 at 4:30 PM

    How dare he make the kid honor a contractual commitment

    • lawson1974 - Sep 26, 2013 at 6:02 PM

      The lesson is simple. Don’t sign a LOI until you are absolutely ready.

  3. maddog1956 - Sep 26, 2013 at 5:16 PM

    Making the comparison that Capel being able to leave is unfair to Devonte’ Graham is like saying that the NLI would mean that Devonte’s brother (if he has one) would have to go to AppState as well. I’m sure that Capel has a contract and that if that was a concern to Mr. Graham he could have asked the terms of Capel’s contract before signing. Mr. Graham signed the NLI with AppState not Coach Capel, even if Capel leaves AppState will still honor the terms of the NLI.

    Two things stand out to me about this.

    Either do away with NLI’s all across the board. This would allow either the school or player to choose other options at anytime. If the player starts falling off his game he’s out…of if a better team comes along the player can leave.

    Universities are in the job of teaching. To some students this means math and science, to others it may mean contracts have to be honored! If AppState was to say “yeah we know you signed a contact, but we’ll let you out of it anyway”, what would be the life lesson Mr. Graham learned?

  4. clfnpl - Sep 26, 2013 at 5:20 PM

    “By now, you should all know that the National Letter of Intent system is incredibly unfair for the athletes that are forced to sign it.”
    They aren’t forced to sign it
    “If Capel, his head coach, had gotten some interest from a bigger program, he could have up and left without a moment’s notice”
    Did Capel say this? Is there a report that he is close to leaving? Sounds like complete conjecture by you. And if he did leave, he probably has a non-compete clause in his contract, and/or a buyout. So its not like he’d be able to leave totally scot-free like you imply.

    I’m not defending Capel, but the narrative you’re singing here is worn-out and I’d say in most cases, misrepresenting situation.

  5. dhamr91 - Sep 27, 2013 at 3:10 PM

    1991 graduate of ASU.

    This story is an embarrassment. I have no problem making this kid lose one year but two years is a joke. It’s real simple Mr. Capel, you may win this battle but you will lose the war. Pick and choose your battles more wisely because this battle is making you look like a petty fool and this battle will haunt you as you move forward attempting to recruit for my alma mater.

    Knowing when to cut bait does take a bit of intelligence, show you are smarter than you are currently acting.

  6. mikerome64 - Oct 3, 2013 at 12:48 AM

    My question to all of these coaches who refuse to release players is “Why do you want someone in your program who does not want to be there?

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