RALEIGH, N.C. — The attorney for suspended North Carolina guard Jalek Felton says the freshman has withdrawn from school and won’t return to the Tar Heels.
Kerry Sutton said Thursday that Felton has received his release to talk with other schools, though he’d have to sit out the 2018-19 season due to NCAA transfer rules.
UNC announced in January that Felton was ineligible to participate in any university activities, though it didn’t release the reason or the suspension’s duration due to federal privacy laws. Felton isn’t facing criminal charges and doesn’t have a pending case listed in an online search of state court records.
Sutton has said Felton was suspended on an “interim” basis from the Chapel Hill campus while UNC sought additional information instead of serving as a punishment. In a Thursday interview with The Associated Press, Sutton said his status never changed; she said they attended a hearing and appealed a decision to maintain the suspension, but never received a response.
“Even if they had come back today and said, ‘We changed our minds, you can come back,’ he’s been out of classes for five weeks,” Sutton said. “Nobody could’ve caught up, so they backed him into a corner.”
Sutton said she didn’t “think it was appropriate” to discuss case specifics. UNC spokeswoman Joanne Peters Denny declined to comment Thursday.
The 6-foot-3 Felton played in 22 games as a reserve point guard for the ninth-ranked Tar Heels, averaging 2.9 points and 1.6 assists. The nephew of former UNC point guard Raymond Felton, he headlined this year’s freshman class as a top-30 national recruit by both Rivals and 247 Sports.
“He had UNC’s back when they were up against the wall,” Sutton said, referencing years of uncertainty as to whether the school would face NCAA sanctions tied to its long-running academic case that ultimately reached a no-penalty resolution in October.
“No other five-star recruit would talk to them. … And yet it turns around the other way and nobody has his back — not saying anything about the basketball program, just the university and the institution.”
Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at https://twitter.com/aaronbeardap