Alabama releases statement about blocking Maurice Smith's transfer to Georgia
Alabama released a statement Thursday in response to reports that it is blocking players from transferring to SEC schools, including reserve defensive back Maurice Smith.
“While it’s understandable that questions are being asked about similarities regarding a situation involving another former football student-athlete transferring to an SEC institution, that instance occurred only because of unique circumstances. The student-athlete elected to have surgery in the middle of the season and left the program. Because of the timing of his departure, his scholarship was not renewed, and he requested to use the graduate transfer exception through the SEC. Our decision on this situation to support the SEC waiver was the exception and not the rule. We adhere to the SEC and institutional policies regarding the issues of this manner. Waivers are not provided without compelling circumstances that present clear non-athletics reasons for the transfer. We remain happy to assist Maurice to enable a transfer to any non-SEC school, and have been doing everything requested regarding that throughout this process.”
Smith’s mother, Samyra, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Wednesday that her son felt “ostracized” when he informed Alabama of his intention to transfer. The senior defensive back will graduate from Alabama on Saturday and intended to transfer to Georgia — where his former defensive coordinator Kirby Smart is now head coach — but is being denied by his former school, citing SEC rules.
“He wants to go to Georgia. Period,” Samyra Smith told the AJC. “That’s where he wants to go.”
She added: “The university is continuing to be resistant to any request to release my son. That’s where we are. In [Saban’s] mind, the best decision is for him to stay here. And he doesn’t think anything other than that is best for the kid.”
Smith wrote a letter to Alabama’s appeal committee on July 1, which was sent to the AJC by his mother, along with photos of his belongings thrown in the trash and copies of texts.
“On Friday, June 17, I arrived at the athletic facility locker room to find my locker cleaned out and all of my personal belongings in the trash (photo attached) underneath trash,” Maurice Smith wrote. “These personal items included my family photos, written goals, inspirational and sentimental items memorializing my deceased former friend, roommate and teammate, Altee Tenpenny, and items of personal value from my former teammates.”
It’s worth noting that Alabama wide receiver Chris Black was allowed to transfer to Missouri after being given his full release in November.
“So what is it? Is it really about my son, or is it about Kirby Smart and Nick Saban?” Samyra Smith asked the AJC.
In fairness, Black asked for his release leading up to Alabama’s game against LSU, which could have gotten lost in the shuffle of game preparation, according to AL.com.
Smith appeared in 15 games and recorded 15 total tackles, one sack, one fumble forced and one pass break up in 2016.