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There are generally three major reasons behind the recent influx of college basketball transfers: Either a player leaves because he doesn’t get enough playing time, the coach doesn’t renew a player’s scholarship because said player isn’t as good as their (terrible) scouting told them he was; or there’s some kind of off-the-court, probably illegal incident.

But there’s a fourth category that’s starting to grow — Post graduate transfers. Here’s the basic breakdown:

When most players transfer from a Division I school to another Division I school, they usually have to sit out a year. But if a player graduates with at least one year of eligibility remaining, he can go to another school without sitting out — assuming that new school has a post-graduate program that’s not offered by the old school.

On paper, this sounds like a great and rare win for student athletes. If they finish early (or on time with a red shirt year, or sitting out a year from another transfer) they can continue their education, on scholarship, without being penalized.

But, like games, reality doesn’t often work out like it does ‘on paper.’

On paper, this sounds like a great and rare win for student athletes

As of today, more than 65 players are taking advantage of this graduate transfer rule for the upcoming season, including as we learned this week, Morehead State’s Corban Collins, (pictured) a double-digit average scorer for the Eagles last year.

By my count, 11 are from major college programs. The vast majority are from smaller schools — which kind of makes sense. Bigger schools often have more options than smaller schools. But few of those major college players transferring are starters. That’s not the case for many of the mid-major guys. Players like Collins, who were leaders for their team the season before, and players like Chris Olivier, who transferred from Eastern Illinois to Oklahoma State under the same rule just a year ago, are taking advantage of this rule in greater numbers.

Chris Olivier averaged 13.1 points as a junior at Eastern Illinois. He averaged 7.8 his senior year with Oklahoma State

Chris Olivier averaged 13.1 points as a junior at Eastern Illinois. He averaged 7.8 his senior year with Oklahoma State

On paper, the rule is great for the student athlete. In practice, the rule is disproportionately being used by guys at smaller schools — shifting the balance from a competitive standpoint away from mid-majors to the often larger schools where these guys land.

Should that second part — competitive balance, even be in the equation?

We, being not only basketball pundits but basketball fans at large, often complain that the NCAA does little (or nothing) to protect the so-called ‘student-athletes,’ a term that’s mocked and derided at every turn. Yet, here we have a rule that appears to benefit the ‘student,’ and many can’t stand it.

Should that second part — competitive balance, even be in the equation?

Of course, stories like Anton Grady’s don’t help. Grady used the rule to transfer from Cleveland State, a low mid-major, to Wichita State, still a mid-major, but one of those programs that’s clearly a step above. Was it Wichita’s great film program (Grady graduated with a film degree) that brought Grady to their door. Not…exactly, according to the Wichita Eagle.

“Grady, from Cleveland, discussed his next stop with cousin Earl Boykins, a former NBA player…they researched rosters to find out which school needed a big man,” the paper reported. “He knew about WSU’s success under coach Gregg Marshall. He knew Marshall needed a big man after the departure of Darius Carter.”

Oh.

It’s impossible to tell whether Grady’s story is the exception or the rule, although there are many who would argue the latter. In the case of Collins, it’s worth noting that he started his career at LSU before joining the Eagles — and while we don’t know his landing spot just yet, joining another major program isn’t out of the question given his success as a junior at Morehead State.

Unless players tell us, we’ll never know their true motivations for leaving.

…and if even just one player is truly getting the educational benefit from this rule, is it really worth taking away?

Deep philosophical questions aside, another good Ohio Valley Conference team is losing another good player to the rule, and it’s likely to a bigger program. Whether the intentions, or the application of the rule is good or bad, the conference is losing good players to it.

Collins is the latest. He won’t be the last.


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  1. Shawn Flaugher:
    I have a feeling that Collins will end up at a major program. I look for him to be sporting the colors of an SEC or ACC school come fall.
OVC Ball
Predicting the OVC race…in mid-December

2016-17 Basketball Standings

OVCOverall

EAST

Belmont8-014-4
Morehead State6-310-12
Tennessee Tech5-39-14
Jacksonville State5-413-11
Tennessee State4-413-8
Eastern Kentucky2-69-14

WEST

UT Martin5-315-8
Murray State5-311-11
SEMO5-310-13
Austin Peay3-57-15
Eastern Illinois1-79-12
SIUE0-85-17
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