The transfer saga of Ericka Mattingly came to an end last week when the four-time state champion from South High announced on Twitter she will play next season at Butler Community College in El Dorado.
Mattingly was blocked from contacting a handful of nearby Division I programs such as Wichita State, Tulsa, and Oral Roberts by her former coach at Texas-Arlington, Krista Gerlich — a decision that was upheld by the university on appeal.
Mattingly was free to transfer to any Division I university, but could not receive financial aid without the release from Gerlich at Texas-Arlington. Now, she won’t have to sit out her sophomore season and it under scholarship at Butler.
“It has been a pretty frustrating experience,” Mattingly said, “but the good thing is now I will be in a great program with a great coach and the chance to go anywhere I want after this next season.”
Transferring to another Division I program became less appealing without the option for financial aid, so Mattingly was determined to play this upcoming season at the Division II or community college level. Butler, which won 24 games last season, offered a quality program coached by Mike Helmer, a former South coach who had remained close to the program, and became a natural fit for Mattingly.
After this season at Butler, Mattingly can transfer to any Division I program and be on scholarship for her junior season.
“(Helmer) would always come to our games at South and I’ve always been great friends with him,” Mattingly said. “Going to a junior college was looking like the best choice for me. I’m already comfortable with the coach and the program and the school is actually right down the street from my house.”
Mattingly, who started 30 games and averaged 4.9 points and 3.8 assists at Texas-Arlington, was stunned by how her decision to want to be closer to home became such an ordeal.
The past few months have been stressful, as the experience of transferring in Division I athletics has been eye-opening for Mattingly.
“My takeaway, and this is for people who are currently in the recruiting process, is to make sure you enjoy everything about the place you are about to commit to,” Mattingly said. “The coaches, the players, even the community because it was surprising to me how much control they really have over you and where you go. I’m just blessed with where I ended up and I’m excited to play this next season.”