Family Squabbles in the MVC? Nah!
(St. Louis, MO) – Two of the most aggressive coaches in the Missouri Valley Conference are involved in what some would assume is a recruiting controversy. Former Loyola guard Matt Chastain is now enrolled at Illinois State. Instantly people begin to ask questions about the process and a lack of loyalty amongst MVC coaches.
The highly rated Chastain signed with Loyola out of LeRoy High School (IL), but had his freshman season cut short by a knee injury. As a projected rotation player in his freshman year, Chastain averaged 3.7 points per game in his three Rambler contests.
In early May, Chastain announced his intention to transfer from the downtown Chicago university. At the time, Loyola head coach Porter Moser told loyolaramblers.com that Chastain had evaluated his spot and on the Rambler roster and chose to leave.
“After rehabbing another unfortunate injury and evaluating our roster for next season, Matt has decided to pursue his basketball career at another institution,” Loyola head coach Porter Moser said. “Matt is a tremendous young man and comes from a great family. We wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors.”
Rarely do players transfer within the same conference, but before the month was over the former all-state player had committed to Illinois State. Head coach Dan Muller told goredbirds.com that ILS had recruited Chastain during his prep career.
“We are very excited to add Matt to our program,” Muller said. “We recruited Matt out of high school, and although he took a different path, it is nice to have him join our program. Having a year to sit out while getting healthy will be very beneficial to Matt and his development, and we look forward to helping him reach his potential on and off the court.”
Muller who has immense respect for Moser and considers him a friend, spoke to me while on vacation with his family, and said that he hadn’t spoken with Chastain after his departure from Loyola, but the 6’6 guard enrolled at Illinois State unrecruited and without a promise of a scholarship.
“If he wouldn’t have come here on his own, he wouldn’t be coming to Illinois State.”
After speaking with Chastain and before the story became public, Muller called his Loyola counter part, because he wanted Moser to hear the entire story first-hand.
Conference rules, according to Muller, did not allow him to speak with Chastain without permission from Loyola, which was not granted. So even if Muller been intent on recruiting Chastain, he couldn’t have done so. In this case, Chastain’s enrollment was a surprise to the sixth year Redbird coach.
Chastain told Jim Benson (@Pg.Benson) of the Pantagraph that after a year in Chicago, he knew he wanted to go school a little closer to home.
“The big thing with me coming out of high school is that I didn’t want to be super close to home, and I went away and realized I wanted to be close to home,” said Chastain, who is enrolled in summer classes at ISU.
Is signing a player from a fellow member of the Valley a violation of one of those ‘unwritten rules’ of collegiate basketball? Earlier in the decade Muller signed former Wichita State recruit Deontae Hawkins and set off a series of league meetings to decide how and when Hawkins would be eligible. After determining Hawkins wouldn’t be eligible against the Shockers, Valley officials changed their mind and allowed Hawkins to play.
I’ve been told the rule on signing transfers within the conference is slightly more complicated than transferring outside of the same league. Loyola gave Chastain his release, but not the freedom to talk to other Valley schools, which is a fairly standard practice. He simply has to sit out the normal one-year transfer period.
But does it violate some ‘code of ethics’ that conference coaches unwittingly agree to when they take the job? I suppose it could, but in this case, the player enrolled in school on his own, and is now attempting to walk on in Normal, Illinois. Given his knee injury history, a future scholarship is not guaranteed.
Muller tells me that Loyola could have waived the restrictions, but Illinois State never requested such a release because they weren’t recruiting Chastain.
In the same way, Muller’s mentor Kevin Stallings is restricting the transfer options of forward Cameron Johnson. Citing NCAA regulations regarding in-conference transfers, they held to the idea that senior transfer Johnson must sit out a full season, rather than to be eligible immediately at NC State. So Muller finds himself on the opposite side of the conversation from his former boss.
In trying to understand how Valley coaches feel about the subject, we reached out to both Moser and Muller. They are two of the most affable and available coaches in the Valley.
Moser declined to comment for the story.
Muller says Chastain has great potential and is a solid athlete.
Valley coaches are so accessible and forthcoming. Our thanks to Dan Muller for taking a couple of minutes from his vacation to clear the air and speak with us!