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When it was announced yesterday that Virginia Tech’s Tyrece Radford had entered the transfer portal, my first thought was “this can’t be related to basketball.”
Coach Mike Young and Radford have great affection and respect for each other. Young refused to throw him under the bus when Radford had legal issues with DUI and gun charges and was suspended from the team, vocally going to bat for him. That the two would part company because Radford wanted to play somewhere else didn’t make any sense.
Since the announcement, however, a picture of why the Hokies’ second-leading scorer (12.2 points per game, 5.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists) would enter the transfer portal has emerged. Will Stewart of Techsideline.com tweeted a screenshot of two court dates Radford has in August, and both are hearings on the possible revocation of the probation he received on his DUI and gun charges earlier in the year. The agreement that resulted in the probation allowed Radford to return to the team after missing a number of games.
One date lists an August 9 hearing at 10 AM for “SC/IMPOSE SUSPENDED SENTENCE” and the other lists another 10 AM hearing for “SC/REVOKE VASAP.” I have since learned VASAP is a program that includes restricting your driver’s license after having an incident involving drinking and driving, and includes an ignition interlock system attached to your car. It monitors a person so if the device monitors a blood alcohol level above a certain limit, the car won’t start.
Obviously, words like “impose” and “revoke” strongly imply that on August 9, a possibility exists where everything rolls back to the original sentence, which includes jail time. Radford was found guilty on Feb. 3, reached a plea agreement, and was sentenced to a 60-day suspended jail sentence, $1,000 fine ($750 suspended) and 12 months of probation. He was suspended from the team on Jan. 25, missed four games, and was reinstated on Feb. 23.
Mark Berman in the Roanoke Times offered even more evidence of that in a story today, talking to Radford’s attorney, Jimmy Turk. The uber-defender of Hokie athletes over the years, Turk acknowledged there was a positive reading on the ignition interlock system. Radford wasn’t supposed to have any alcohol, Turk said, and the device said he did.
Think about that for a second. You were caught drinking and driving, and you were given a second chance. You get in a car, know you’re not suppose to be drinking, and know there’s a device in the vehicle that will absolutely, positively, without mercy, catch you if you drink.
And you still get in the car after having a drink.
You could have walked, called a friend for a ride, taken an Uber, pursued a dozen other options. But you got in the car and tried to start it after having a drink. Which with almost certainty you know will land you back in court and face having all the penalties that were suspended restored.
With this in mind, I’m not sure Radford had a choice but to enter the transfer portal. With the right lawyer (and in Jimmy Turk, he was the right lawyer) he can probably throw himself at the mercy of the court and still avoid having to serve the 60-day sentence. But I don’t think a court of law is going to be his problem.
When he was suspended for the four games earlier in the season, the constant message out of Blacksburg seemed to be it wasn’t the legal system people were fearing, but the schools’ various judicial committees that monitor an athlete's conduct. They had a say in Radford’s return, and a school’s student judicial system can many times be more arbitrary than a public court of law. As it turns out, whatever parties had to say yes to a second chance decided to do so, and Radford returned to play in a loss to Georgia Tech.
This time around I’m not so sure they will say yes again. I think that’s the reason he entered the portal, because he hasn’t been removed from the team, and if this was Nov. 15 and a game was scheduled this weekend, he could play. Nobody’s asked him to leave the team.
But that’s true today on July 1.
It may not be true the afternoon of August 9.