Kansas State University

Receiver Corey Sutton fighting Kansas State for his scholarship release

Receiver Corey Sutton tries to get open in the end zone against Missouri State. (September 24, 2016)
Receiver Corey Sutton tries to get open in the end zone against Missouri State. (September 24, 2016) The Wichita Eagle

Corey Sutton has played his final football game in a Kansas State uniform, but the Wildcats aren’t ready for him to continue his college career elsewhere.

Sutton, a 6-foot-2, 200-pound receiver from Charlotte, N.C., is having trouble getting a release from his athletic scholarship at K-State despite announcing earlier this month that he planned to transfer.

In a phone conversation Wednesday with the Eagle, Sutton said he presented K-State with a list of 35 potential transfer destinations in early May and the school denied his release to all 35 a week later. Sutton said the list didn’t contain any Big 12 schools or teams on future K-State schedules. Some were FCS and Division II. Didn’t matter. K-State blocked him everywhere.

He appealed that ruling, but K-State upheld it on Wednesday.

“When I originally told Coach Snyder I was going to transfer he said, ‘Well, Corey, I feel bad that you want to leave, but I can’t make you stay,’ ” Sutton said. “I dropped all my classes, moved out of Kansas and started looking at my options, then I find out they are denying me my release.

“Coach Snyder told me today that when I signed my letter of intent that was my commitment to him, that I was going to be there for four years. I heard that and told him, ‘Coaches can leave. So why can’t a player leave? You made a commitment to me that you were going to treat me the right way and that’s not what you’re doing.’ 

Sutton later clarified he only dropped future classes and finished the spring semester in good academic standing with a 3.0 GPA.

Snyder addressed the Sutton situation at a Catbackers event in Overland Park on Thursday.

"I’ve been around there for 28 years, the young man was in our program for less than two years,” Snyder said. “I think our fans know what I’m about. They know what our program is about. I think they trust that.

“The feeling all along if you’re a No. 2 you probably want to be a No. 1. If you have the option to leave and you have 22 No. 2s on your team leaving you don’t have much of a team left. It doesn’t make sense to not try to prevent that from happening.”

NCAA rules allow Sutton to transfer to another school of his choosing with or without a release from K-State, but he is only allowed to receive financial aid from a different school next year if he receives his release from K-State.

“I don’t have enough money for that,” Sutton said. “(Snyder) is trying to treat me like I am his kid. Why is he treating a 19-year old like that and trying to change his life like that? I have never heard of anything like this before.”

K-State athletic director Gene Taylor did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

The transfer process has left Sutton frustrated, and anyone that monitors his Twitter account knows it.

At about 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Sutton fired off a series of tweets that shined light on his predicament. All were directed at K-State.

One read: “Can you stop being a slave master and give me my release?”

Another read: “Y’all have no idea, student athletes stay too quiet, covering everyone’s tail.”

One more: “I worked way, way, way too hard for this to let a man stop me.”

Sutton said he feels more sure than ever that he made the right decision to transfer.

“There are so many things messed up with that program,” Sutton said. “Why would I ever go back?”

Sutton arrived at K-State in time for spring practice last year, graduating a semester early from high school in hopes of getting a jump on his college career. He cracked the two deep as a freshman, which is rare for most young Wildcats.

He went on to play in 10 games, catching four passes for 54 yards. Sutton expected much more, and that was the main reason he opted to transfer.

“My position coach (Andre Coleman) told me if I graduated early from high school that I would come in and start as a freshman, because we didn’t have any receivers,” Sutton said. “Then I get here and we are deep at receiver. I don’t mind competition, but I told the coaches I only wanted to burn my redshirt if I was going to be involved with half the plays.

“They said that wouldn’t be a problem. They told me I was going to start and used me as a starter in practice. They promised me all this playing time. Then the game would start and my position coach would grab me and tell me to stay on the sidelines and that I’m not starting because Coach Snyder doesn’t want to play a freshman. I felt lied to.”

Sutton said he was also upset with coaches asking him to cut his dreadlocks and to wear certain clothes.

K-State decides to grant or deny transfer releases on a case by case basis using criteria outlined in the university’s student-athlete handbook.

From the handbook: “The student-athlete’s grade point average as it relates to APR, undue burden or personal/family hardship on the student-athlete, conduct and honest communication by the student-athlete, the best interests of the student-athlete and the institution, and indications of tampering or undue influence regarding the student-athlete shall be the factors considered in the decision as to whether to provide a release for the purposes of a transfer.”

Sutton expected to receive his release without any trouble when he informed Snyder of his decision nearly a month ago.

“There was a year and a half of events that led to me leaving. I committed to K-State because I thought it was going to be a great experience,” Sutton said. “But it wasn’t. It made me negative-minded about college. This wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment decision. I thought about it for months. I told my coaches I was depressed there. I told my coaches I had to go counseling there. They just don’t get it.”

K-State head coach Bill Snyder talks about the team's spring football game Saturday. (April 22, 2017)

Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett