Vanderbilt leading scorer Eric McClellan has been suspended for the remainder of the 2013-14 college basketball season and removed from university enrollment from the spring semester after a violation of academic policy, the school announced on Jan. 8.
Updates From Friday, Jan. 10:
Nicole Auerbach of USA Today reports that McClellan has been dismissed from the Vanderbilt basketball team:
Eric McClellan was dismissed from the Vanderbilt basketball team today, per school. McClellan will not be part of the program in the future.— Nicole Auerbach (@NicoleAuerbach) January 10, 2014
The team later confirmed the report in a statement:
Eric McClellan was dismissed from the Vanderbilt basketball team today by Coach Kevin Stallings. McClellan will not be a part of the program in the future, based upon newly discovered information that came to light Wednesday evening.
---End of Update---
McClellan, a sophomore guard, did not travel with the team for its 68-63 loss to Alabama on Tuesday, sending his status with the Commodores into question. School officials released an official statement a day later, declining to elaborate further on the situation as per student privacy laws.
McLellan issued a statement through Vanderbilt, apologizing for his undisclosed transgressions:
I want to apologize to my family, coaches, teammates, and the entire Vanderbilt community for my actions that have led to this suspension. I take full responsibility for what has happened. I look forward to returning to school this summer and of continuing my goal of earning a degree at Vanderbilt and playing basketball for this coaching staff and with these players.
He was in his first season with the Commodores after a transfer from Tulsa. NCAA transfer rules forced McClellan to use a year of eligibility for the 2012-13 season, thus using up his redshirt option. McClellan will have two years of eligibility remaining, and he is expected to re-enroll at Vanderbilt over the summer.
The Commodores have made the NCAA tournament in three of the last four seasons, but McClellan's suspension could be a death knell for their hopes this year. Averaging a team-high 14.3 points per game, McClellan was Kevin Stallings' most consistent scorer on a roster still looking to find itself.
Each of Vanderbilt's five losses have come against unranked opponents. Stallings will find himself scrambling for a patchwork rotation in the interim, as critical SEC contests against No. 14 Kentucky and No. 21 Missouri could lead to an 0-3 start to conference play.
It's looking as if things are going downhill quickly for Stallings, who looked to be building a consistent SEC contender a couple years ago. The team already lost 2012-13 leading scorer Kedren Johnson to a suspension and starting guard Kevin Bright to a German professional team last summer.
McClellan's suspension leaves Vanderbilt with only seven scholarship players, as noted by Jeff Lockridge of The Tennessean. Center Josh Henderson is also out for the season after suffering a torn ACL, MCL and meniscus in his left knee in Vanderbilt's 69-67 win over Marshall on Dec. 5.
Much of the scoring onus will now be placed on Rod Odom. The senior forward is the team's second-leading scorer at 13.8 points per game and scored 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the loss to Alabama. Odom and guards Dai-Jon Parker and Kyle Fuller each played 38 minutes, which could become the norm as Stallings gets desperate for bodies.
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