Golden’s collegiate playing career, though, still apparently has life.
The senior point guard will play his final season at Georgia Tech and seek a hardship waiver from the NCAA in order to gain immediate eligibility.
Following a morning report of Golden’s transfer to Georgia Tech from ESPN.com, Georgia Tech confirmed the news in a press release.
“We are excited about Trae joining the Yellow Jacket family,” Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory said. “Returning home to Atlanta, close to his family, to finish out his college career was extremely important to Trae. Also, the opportunity to earn his family’s second Georgia Tech degree — his older sister graduated in 2008 — was a key factor.”
Golden told ESPN.com’s on Saturday that his father, Robert Golden, is “severely ill.” The Golden family resides in Powder Springs, about 20 miles northeast of Atlanta.
“I appreciate everything that coach (Cuonzo) Martin and Tennessee did for me,” Golden told ESPN.com. “I feel it’s the best move for me to go home to Atlanta so I can be close to my family and help take care of my father.”
The NCAA’s hardship transfer waiver allows transferring players to move to a new school without having to sit out an academic year. It’s granted to student-athletes who transfer due to family illness or financial hardship.
Another former Cobb County standout has already taken advantage of the waiver to transfer from a Southeastern Conference school to move back to the Atlanta area. Walton product Ryan Harrow, whose father recently suffered a stroke, left Kentucky — his second school after beginning his career at North Carolina State — to play at Georgia State and will be eligible to play for the Panthers immediately.
Brandon Reed, a former Whitefield Academy standout, left Georgia Tech to play his senior season at Arkansa State — where he began his career as a standout freshman before spending the last three years as a Yellow Jacket. Reed, too, will be allowed to play immediately as a graduate student pursuing a master’s degree path that Georgia Tech does not offer.
The 6-foot-2, 205-pound Golden started 58 of his 96 career games over three years with the Vols, averaging 9.7 points, 3.6 assists and 2.4 rebounds. He was the Vols’ second-leading scorer in 2012-13, averaging 12.1 points per game after leading Tennessee in scoring with 13.7 points per game as a sophomore.
Following his transfer from Tennessee, the Knoxville News Sentinel cited a university athletic department source with knowledge of the situation in a report that Golden’s departure was “based on academics” and a result of “repeated plagiarism.”
The source told the News Sentinel that Golden was not going to be permitted to continue at the university past the spring semester and would not have been allowed to attend summer school to repair his academic standing.
Golden told ESPN.com he left Tennessee in good academic standing.
“I know there were some rumors,” Golden told ESPN.com. “That’s not something I can control, but I’m on track to be the second person in my family to get their degree.”
Georgia Tech finished 16-15 last season.
“(Golden) has proven himself at the highest level and his experience and ability to score will help us take another step in our program’s rebuilding process,” Gregory added in the release. “We are very confident that Trae will be a great addition and be a positive member of our program and the Georgia Tech community.”
The Knoxville News Sentinel contributed to this report.