CROWN POINT — Grant Gelon's shoes shuffled inside the offices of the Indiana University men's basketball program May 3. His quickening pulse kept time.
The freshman on the Hoosiers men's basketball team was meeting with new coach Archie Miller. Hope was dashed with one sentence.
"We don't see you fitting into our plans here."
In an instant, the 6-foot-5 shooting guard from Crown Point was lost. And alone.
"I felt like I was thrown in the middle of the ocean without a life vest," Gelon said on Tuesday in his home in C.P. "What was I going to do?"
Gelon was recruited by Tom Crean, who was fired March 16. Miller was hired by the Hoosiers on March 27.
"When Miller came in, no honestly, I wasn't nervous," Gelon said. "He looked at all of us and said, 'You're my guys.' When he called me in the day before my last final, I was blindsided."
Gelon played in 12 games for IU last season, averaging 1.8 points and 3.2 minutes a game.
On Friday, Gelon departed for State Fair Community College in Sedalia, Missouri. Former Lake Central player Adam Short is a coach there, and Hammond's Caleb Coleman will play at State Fair, too.
After the meeting May 3, Gelon bounced around ideas about what he should do with his parents, Mark and Sandi. Gelon was working hard and making progress, he said.
So on May 12, he told Miller he planned on staying at Indiana.
"Everything changed after that," Gelon said. "It got ugly."
The next day Sandi got a text from a coach of the Indiana Elite AAU program, where Grant played, and it said:
"Hey! I'm sure you (k)now by now that Grant called and said he was staying, IU staff told us they may just push him off the team and let him keep his scholarship but he won't be playing or on the team.
"You can call me if you want and discuss, I don't want this overshadowing your Mother's Day weekend with him, but I just hope that like you said his grandpa can talk some sense into him!"
JD Campbell, Indiana Senior Assistant Athletic Director for Men's Basketball Communications and Special Projects, said Friday no one on Indiana's staff contacted anyone at Indiana Elite to send such a message.
Gelon was going to be allowed to stay at Indiana for his education because of the Indiana University Student-Athlete Bill of Rights, which says an athlete can't be cut loose from their educational money just because of poor performance. The NCAA also passed a rule for men's basketball that applied directly to the IU situation.
If a new coach comes in and wants to discard a player, the student's educational money can't be taken away.
But Gelon did not know if he would be allowed to stay on the team if he returned.
"That determination was never made," Campbell said. "Grant asked for his release first."
Sandi and Mark Gelon met with Indiana athletic director Fred Glass on May 22 to discuss Grant's position in the program.
"Why wasn't (Miller) there?" Sandi asked on Monday.
Campbell said he knows of no Division I coach who would meet with parents to discuss playing time.
Indiana's athletic department gave The Times the following response to this situation:
"After working with our team during of the first month of their tenure, our coaches met with each player to discuss their role and each player’s own expectations for the future. Grant was made aware that our staff believed his abilities were not of the caliber that would allow him to receive playing time of any kind in the future for the IU program. He asked for and was granted a release from his scholarship. The staff told him we would assist him in any way possible in finding a program that would allow him to make the type of on-court contribution he was hoping for and expecting, at another institution. He also was advised that his full four-year athletic scholarship would be honored if he chose to remain as a student at IU. Coach Miller believes honesty in evaluating talent, while often difficult, is the appropriate measure to take at all times and in the best interest of each player. We wish Grant the best as he continues to pursue his education and college basketball career."
"The first thing I asked Grant when this happened was, 'Hey man, are you OK?'" Crown Point coach Clint Swan said.
"Grant's a tough kid, a great competitor. This would be tough on anybody. I wanted to let him know he had options."
Gelon will have two years of eligibility left once his season at State Fair is completed.
"He got beat up his freshman year at a Big Ten school with a program like that," Swan said. "He was trying to keep his head above water. He got better. I know how competitive he is. He wanted to go there and give it a go.
"I know it hurt him. It was frustrating. I absolutely know he has D-I options."
Grant said he felt he was lied to by the Indiana staff and not given a chance to show what he could do.
Campbell said the staff evaluated nine other players and three recruits, then they had to make their decision.
"I want other parents to be aware," Sandi said. "Grant got no support there. He didn't know who to contact. He was all alone."