published Friday, April 5th, 2013

One of Chattanooga Mocs' three signees wants out

Two signees seem to be all in, but one wants out of the national letter of intent he signed with the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga basketball program.

The departure of coach John Shulman put the future of incoming Mocs Jonathan Stark, a point guard, and post players T.J. Williams and Christian Kennedy in jeopardy.

Interim athletic director Laura Herron reached out to all three after UTC officials relieved Shulman of the final year of his contract. She met mixed results.

"I contacted all three to let them know that we're committed to them," she said. "We hope all three want to be Mocs."

Williams, a 6-foot-8 forward, declared his complete commitment to UTC, no matter the coach, via Twitter when he posted last Saturday: "For the media and all those that were wondering: I don't recall de-committing! I'M A MOC."

Carlos Kennedy, the father of the 6-10 center, said Thursday that his son very likely will play for UTC no matter who succeeds Shulman.

"We love the area, we love the guys and Christian loves the team," the elder Kennedy said over the phone. "He bonded with the guys he visited with.

"We're comfortable and we feel that the team that they have is a young promising team. Whoever comes into it is stepping into a pretty good situation."

Jerry Stark, the father of the point guard signee, is not nearly as optimistic about his son playing for the Mocs. He said he has spoken with Herron and asked for his son to be released from a commitment to UTC.

And he's not happy that it hasn't happened.

"I think we want to leave," the father said. "I don't understand why they won't release my son. We appreciate the opportunity of coming there because of the relationship we had with Coach Shulman. That's changed, and we'd like to go somewhere else. We want to look into our options, but we can't do that."

Herron said she explained to the family that Jonathan Stark signed with the school, not the coach. She has said on several occasions that the decision to release a player from a scholarship will be up to the next coach, but an athletic director needs to be hired first so that person can hire a coach.

That process has left the Starks swaying in the wind with nowhere to go.

"Jonathan can't do anything but sit here and wait," his dad said. "I'm disappointed UTC would do that to a kid."

UTC interim coach Casey Long said he has been honest with current players and instructed them to control what they can control -- their own basketball development and their academics.

"All the players are calmed back down and focused on trying to take care of what they can," said Long, who is overseeing individual workouts. "My message is that everything happens for a reason."

Contact David Uchiyama at duchiyama@timesfreepress.com or at 423-757-6484. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP.

about David Uchiyama...

David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...

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