Make no mistake, the current state of transfers in NCAA Division I athletics is alarming. Over 500 players transferred schools last summer, well over an average of one per program. The OVC is far from exempt, with transfer players in the starting lineups of many programs.
Change is clearly needed, and in a way was put into motion last summer, when new recruiting rules went into effect allowing coaches more contact with potential student athletes before they sign. It’s a great start, allowing kids a better insight into what kind of situation they’re entering into their freshman year, at least in theory.
The newest proposal wouldn’t make transfer harder: it does the opposite, allowing more transfers to play immediately, with a catch.
Under the current rules, players must sit out a year if they transfer to another Division I program, although there are exemptions possible. The new rule would simplify things greatly, essentially allowing transfers to play immediately if they meet two conditions:
- Their GPA is greater than 2.6, the minimum to not impact a schools APR
- Their current coach grants the student “permission” to transfer.
If a student meets the first requirement, but isn’t granted “permission,” the student can still transfer and be on scholarship, but will have to sit out a year.
So essentially, it would now be up to the player’s previous coach to determine when a player could start at his new school. And no one in the NCAA sees a potential problem with this? No one, given the events of this past summer, in which numerous coaches attempted to deny their players transfers, or told them they couldn’t transfer to certain schools, sees a problem with this?
How is this a fix to the current situation? How does this solve the transfer epidemic in the least?
It doesn’t. I don’t even think it attempts to.
Depending on your point of view, one of two things is wrong with the current transfer system. It’s inconsistent, and it makes players powerless. The new system? Inconsistent, in that it depends on your previous coach, and makes players powerless, by being dependent on the previous coach. It solves virtually nothing.
And it absolutely doesn’t do anything to curb the current transfer epidemic: it could in fact make it worse.
To it’s credit, it’s simplified. And the NCAA needs more simple rules when it comes to student athletes. (The list of potential recruiting violations would likely make your head spin.) But that appears to be the end to it’s positives.
There is a third prong to the new transfer proposal, and it’s making “tampering” with a student-athlete a more serious offense under NCAA rules. While this is an over-simplification, tampering is as simple as attempting in any way to convince a student to leave his current school. The idea of making it more serious is that coaches will be more likely to report instances, which are already happening, if the punishment is harsher. That means coaches would be reporting other coaches, which just isn’t likely to happen in many circumstances. Many often call coaching a “fraternity” and there are those that will look down on other coaches for “ratting out” their brothers, so to speak. That alone would likely keep many from doing so, especially if a “respected” coach is involved.
As for whether it benefits or hurts mid-major conferences like the OVC, I don’t think it does either. Smaller conferences tend to be the recipients of far more transfers than senders, and this current proposal does little to change that. Sure, a “star” at a mid-major conference could leave for a bigger school, but I can’t imagine a single coach that would let that player play immediately.
In the end, it’s not about hurting individual schools and conferences, it’s about providing a fair ground for the student-athletes. But again, the NCAA is doing itself a disservice by once again making it about the coaches, who’s ties to their university is an almost-meaningless “contract” between the two, worth only the number in the buyout clause at it’s end.
There’s still time to change it, and I hope that the NCAA finds a way to do so. Because in it’s current form, no one wins with this proposal.
…which would be par for the course from this organization.