PROVO -- Former Snow College All-American Trent Whiting has transferred from Utah to BYU. But as far as his basketball career goes, he will pay a high price to do so.
Due to Mountain West Conference rules, Whiting will lose a year of eligibility and he won't be able to play for the Cougars until mid-December, 2000. At that time, the 6-foot, 180-pound guard will be a senior and BYU will have just 21 games remaining on its schedule. Cougar coach Steve Cleveland has also told Whiting he will never be on scholarship at BYU simply because the program has none to give.It appears to be a curious move for a player who had scholarship offers from Utah State, Weber State, Idaho State and Boise State. But Cleveland says that Whiting's decision was influenced by much more than basketball.
"He obviously wasn't very happy where he was," he said. "He told me BYU is where he and his wife have always wanted to go. Trent wants to have a positive academic experience."
Whiting is an international business major and likes BYU's program. Whiting's wife, Amber, plays basketball at Weber State and may transfer to BYU as well.
Cleveland considers the addition of Whiting a bonus. Sophomore point guard Matt Montague has been hampered by an Achilles injury and he has been backed up by Todd Christensen, who is a natural shooting guard. Whiting can play both the point and off-guard positions.
"Trent is a quality player and he gives us depth at the point guard," he said. "I can't turn my back on outstanding players, especially when we don't have to give up a scholarship. He can help us win games. He can shoot. He was an outstanding player at Snow."
Cleveland had recruited Whiting out of Snow College, and the two established a good relationship, Cleveland said. Not long after receiving his official release from the U., Whiting contacted Cleveland.
"It was something that was unexpected. I was surprised," Cleveland said. "I made it very clear we didn't have any scholarships. He can't even practice with us until next year. I told him to consider his other options, but he really wants to attend school here. He's excited about coming."
After playing in five Ute games, Whiting exercised a medical redshirt option. A congenital condition in his femur bones made it extremely painful to play basketball. Ute officials tried everything they could to help Whiting, calling medical experts from around the country to try to solve the problem.
Whiting played for Jon Judkins at Snow College last year and committed to Utah before the season was over. Last summer, former Utah assistant Jeff Judkins became director of basketball operations at BYU.
Ute coach Rick Majerus said he penciled Whiting in as his point guard before the season began and Whiting did start one of the five games he played. Although he averaged 17 minutes per game, Whiting played in pain all season.
Whiting enjoyed his best game in the Ute season opener against Arkansas State when he scored nine points by making all three of his 3-pointers. He averaged five points and three rebounds per game.
Cleveland said Whiting is receiving treatment for his injury and he believes Whiting will be able to contribute next season. "As long as he doesn't practice more than a couple of hours a day, he should be fine," he said.
BYU officials might talk to MWC's Academic/Eligibility Committee in an attempt to appeal the loss of Whiting's one year of eligibility. But it's not likely that the MWC would overturn the ruling.
"The rule is set to be harsh to keep players from transferring inside the conference," said BYU athletic director Val Hale. "You have to sit out a year as per NCAA rules. Then you lose a year because of MWC rules and you also lose financial aid for a year. It's a double-whammy."