Phil Turner is no longer on scholarship with the Mississippi State men’s basketball team.
The senior-to-be guard was informed of his status two days ago via a non-renewal letter from the MSU basketball office sent to his home in Grenada.
“My dad got the letter and the coaching staff didn’t even talk to me once about this before that letter,” Turner said in a phone interview late Friday evening. “I’m not even on the team anyone without any previous notice whatsoever.”
Attempts to confirm Turner’s status with the team and to verify his comments with MSU head coach Rick Stansbury were unsuccessful.
Spokespeople in the MSU basketball office had no comment on the situation at this time.
Turner, who averaged 5.5 points and 4.3 rebounds in 20.9 minutes per game last season, says he was able to reach Stansbury after numerous phone calls Friday saying and was adamant that the MSU coach’s explanation were less than satisfying.
“He hemmed and hawed for a while and then finally told me I was let go because of the rumor late in the year that was not returning but I don’t know where that got started because I told them repeatedly I was definitely coming back,” Turner said. “I even pushed back my graduation so I could play next season and now I’m still four courses short of graduating. This is just isn’t fair or right.”
MSU associate athletic director for compliance Bracky Brett was unable to confirm whether a letter of nonrenewal had been sent out to Turner mostly due to the being present at the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics in Anaheim, Calif., but did say letters of renewal or non-renewal usually have to go out by July 1.
The “rumor” that led Stansbury believe the 6-foot-3 guard would not be returning to the MSU program was apparently validated due to an apparent confusion over Turner’s lack of presence for the routine end of the season player/coach meeting. Turner told The SDN Bulldog Blog he was told that because he didn’t show up for the meeting with Stansbury but Turner claims he still has the text message sent from a member of the coaching staff saying the meeting was cancelled because Stansbury “had to step out of the office so don’t worry about it”.
“I told (Stansbury) this was a slap in the face as far as I’m concerned to not even have the decency to let me know about this before I get this letter,” Turner said.
Turner, who has 41 career starts in his MSU career, was a starting forward on the 2008-09 squad that won the Southeastern Conference Tournament but was relegated to the bench this past season in favor of junior Kodi Augustus. When Augustus was suspended early in the 2009-10 season for publically criticizing the coaching staff after MSU’s season-opening 88-74 loss to Rider, Turner was the one that replaced Augustus in the lineup for a limited amount of time.
The release of Turner’s scholarship technically puts Mississippi State one under the NCAA mandated limit of 13 but if the reinstatement appeal of point guard Dee Bost is accepted by the NCAA, the Bulldogs would once again be at the limit.
Turner denied the subject of Bost’s appeal was brought up at all in the conversation with Stansbury when asked in by The SDN Bulldog Blog during Friday’s night’s phone interview.
Under NCAA rules, Turner would still have the option of returning to the team as a walk-on but he claims that was never an option.
“The coaching staff never gave me the opportunity or talked about the idea of doing that,” Turner said. “I’m not even sure what my options are right now because I wasn’t prepared at all to be going through this.”
UPDATE – 9:10 a.m. Saturday – In a text message exchange from The SDN Bulldog Blog to Phil Turner, the senior-to-be admitted to missing TWO (previously reported one) end-of-the season meetings but like we reported late Friday night, he was notified via text message that the first one was canceled by MSU director of basketball operations Talvis F ranklin and wasn’t notified at all about the second meeting.
“I wasn’t in town for the second meeting,” Turner said. “I wasn’t in first term summer school so I didn’t get anything about it.”
The SDN Bulldog Blog asked Turner if any academic issues could be involved in Stansbury’s decision to remove his scholarship and he denied that saying:
“I’m four classes from graduation,” Turner said. “That was not a problem.”
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