Yale Basketball Player Leaving Team to Sing with Whiffenpoofs Vocal Group

Dan CarsonTrending Lead WriterMay 14, 2014

FILE - In this March 7, 2014 file photo, Yale's Brandon Sherrod, right, fouls Harvard's Siyani Chambers, left, during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in New Haven, Conn. Sherrod is taking off from the team's 2014-15 season to tour with the Whiffenpoofs, the school's a cappella singing group. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File)
Jessica Hill/Associated Press

The Yale Whiffenpoofs are the nation’s oldest college a capella troupe—established in 1909—and soon they’ll be counting 6’6” Yale forward Brandon Sherrod among their numbers.

According to Bill Cloutier of the New Haven Register, Sherrod plans to take a break from basketball after becoming one of 14 Yale male students who made the cut for the prestigious singing group this spring. The group requires a one-year commitment and tours the globe, with scheduled stops on every continent but Antarctica this year.   

Why did Sherrod—a junior on the cusp of what is expected to be a watershed year for the Yale basketball program—choose to leave his team for the Whiffenpoofs? After all, the team hasn't been to the NCAA tournament since 1962, and he could be part of the team that finally takes them back after finishing just short at 19-14 last season.

However, he says he’ll never get another chance to sing at this level.

"It was an incredibly hard decision," Sherrod told the Register. "But basketball is not my life. I have a lot of other interests and music is one of them."

He continued: "It would have been great if I was allowed to play this season and then join the group after my senior year. That would be ideal. But, they’re not going to make exceptions just for me. There’s 13 other juniors that would love to graduate with their class and then take a year off to travel and perform before heading into the workforce."

Fred Beckham/Associated Press

A Bridgeport, Conn., native who grew up singing in the church choir, Sherrod averaged 6.8 points and 4.3 rebounds a game over the course of the 2013-14 season. He helped the Yale Bulldogs to a 19-14 record and was previously expected to play a heavy role in helping his team challenge Harvard for the Ivy League basketball title this coming season.

Yale head coach James Jones says he isn’t excited to be losing Sherrod, but he understands that Yale—a private university that doesn’t provide athletic scholarships—encourages its students to branch out and try new things. He knows this is a golden opportunity for Sherrod.

"I’m disappointed," Jones said. "I told my wife I was disappointed, but then she said, 'What if it was your son who had that opportunity and really wanted to do it? Wouldn’t you want him to have that chance?' It’s also not like his career is over. He will get to come back and it is an amazing opportunity."

To give you an idea of what Sherrod is shelving his hoop dreams for, here are the Whiffenpoofs performing Michael Buble’s "Haven’t Met You Yet" on NBC’s The Sing-Off:

Snazzy stuff, right? 

Sherrod says he plans to return to the team in 2015 to fulfill his last year of eligibility with the program.

"Justin Sears, our best player, told me if I didn’t [join the Whiffenpoofs], he’d be upset," Sherrod said, via The Associated Press (h/t ESPN). "I’m fortunate to be at Yale and be able to utilize all the gifts God has given me."

Indeed, bros don’t let bros avoid capitalizing on their dreams, even if it isn’t in line with their own plans.

While Sherrod’s temporary departure hurts the team’s chances to make the NCAA tournament this season, it might stand as an important lesson to young athletes out there. 

Being good at sports doesn’t necessarily mean you have to abandon all other activities, and Sherrod leaving the basketball team doesn’t necessarily count the Bulldogs out of a potential play-in bid in 2015. 

After all, Sears (averaging 16.9 points and 6.9 rebounds a game) seems completely capable of covering while his buddy melts hearts around the nation.


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