Head coach Billy Donovan may not be the only member of the Florida Gators leaving the program this offseason as four-star 2015 guard signee KeVaughn Allen now seemingly plans to ask for a release from his National Letter of Intent following Donovan’s departure from the program after 19 seasons.
According to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Allen’s mother “confirmed that her son will ask for a release” after her husband (Allen’s stepfather) made the same proclamation on a local radio show earlier in the day Tuesday.
“He’s going to open his… I guess the best way to put it is he’s going to keep his options open. That’s the best way to put it” the stepfather, John Curry, said on Sports Talk with Bo when asked if Allen plans to ask for his release.
“It’s coming,” he continued about the release. “Florida has to hire somebody before you can actually ask for a release. You can’t actually ask for a release until they bring a new coach in, to my understanding. I’m just going by what I was told. Once they get a coach hired, then you can formally ask for your release. I don’t know if that’s true or not, that’s just what we were told.”
Pressed on whether Allen will go somewhere other than Florida due to the departure of Donovan, Curry said that will be the case.
“His whole draw to Florida, besides the beautiful university, is the coaches,” Curry explained, before refusing to get into additional details on the situation.
Allen, who committed to UF over one year ago on April 30, 2014, chose not to ink his NLI with the Gators during the early signing period while under pressure from those in his community to flip his commitment to hometown Arkansas.
His stepfather was adamant on the show that “KeVaughn makes his own decisions.”
A source told OnlyGators.com that Allen never wavered in his pledge to Florida and Donovan, and he signed his NLI on April 16, 2015, without hesitation.
But with Donovan no longer with the team, it appears that Allen – the Gators’ highest-rated 2015 commitment, who is ranked as the 61st player in the nation per the 247 Sports Composite – has now had a change of heart.
Whether Allen is actually released from his NLI, however, remains to be seen.
According to the NCAA: “The NLI is a contract between a prospective student-athlete and a school, not an agreement between individuals. A student-athlete is obligated to attend the school he or she signed with unless the school agrees to release the student-athlete. If a school entices a prospective student-athlete to sign an NLI by offering an automatic release if a coach leaves, the prospective student-athlete’s NLI may be declared void and the school may face penalties.”
Should Allen ultimately request a release from his NLI, Florida will most likely grant his request but will likely ask Allen to first speak with its new coach in the effort of keeping him signed with the program.
Releasing Allen would immediately hurt the Gators, which due to three non-graduation offseason departures (two early entrants, one transfer) were already one scholarship player under the NCAA limit of 13 with Allen in tow.
Allen was being counted on to be an offensive weapon for Florida in 2015-16 after the departure of junior G Michael Frazier II.
The Gators have three other four-star prospects signed for next season including power forward Noah Dickerson (Montverde, FL), small forward Keith Stone (Deerfield Beach, FL) and center Kevarrius Hayes (Live Oak, FL). As of press time, none of the three has indicated he plans to ask for an NLI release, though that certainly could change once a new coach is hired.