SALT LAKE CITY — Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak has made it clear. He would like to have returning LDS Church missionary Josh Sharp on the team next season when the Utes move into the Pac-12.
However, due to a paperwork technicality, the former Lone Peak High School star could end up elsewhere.
The university announced Friday that other schools are allowed to contact Sharp, who redshirted in 2008-09 before leaving on a mission to Texas, because he did not sign his National Letter of Intent and financial aid agreement with Utah simultaneously.
The 6-foot-7, 185-pound forward signed his NLI with the Utes and former coach Jim Boylen on Nov. 14, 2007, but didn't sign his financial aid agreement until the following January. Binding agreements require that both be done at the same time.
"We want Josh to be a part of our program and are disappointed that rival schools can take advantage of a loophole in the system should they choose," Krystkowiak said in a released statement. "Josh attended classes here for a year, signed an NLI and financial aid agreement, and we want him to continue his education and playing career here."
The new coaching staff, which has recruited seven new players to the program since Krystkowiak replaced the fired Boylen last month, planned on Sharp filling one of the program's 13 scholarship slots (the only in-state player in the group) for 2011-12.
Sharp, reportedly, may be interested in signing with BYU or Utah State instead.
Mutual interest, though, has yet to be verified.
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"It is my understanding that there is an unwritten rule that players cannot be recruited by other schools while they are serving missions. To do so is not only inappropriate, but it creates an atmosphere of ill will," Krystkowiak continued. "We hope that Josh returns to our team and wants to be part of what we are building here, but regardless of what happens, we remain strongly committed to recruiting the best players in the state of Utah."
Sharp averaged 13.5 points and 6.3 rebounds as a senior at Lone Peak. He earned first-team all-state honors from the Deseret News after helping the Knights win back-to-back state championships.