NCAA Needs to Bite the Bullet and Change Transfer Rule

The word transfer is one of the most hot button topics in college basketball. Every Spring/Summer, many NCAA athletes announce they will transfer schools. It is a number that grows each and every year. An study showed that 689 student-athletes transferred to a different school in 2017. That number is enormous, and has been the butt of many jokes by those in the college basketball world. Despite this upward trend in transfers, the NCAA will (eventually) discuss removing their current rule in which a player must sit out a year before playing for their new team. Despite the criticism transferring gets from many, the NCAA needs to change this rule. That 689 number is made to look more extreme than it really is.

Not Everyone is Transferring to Another Division 1 Programs

First off, let’s cut that giant number in half. That same NCAA study showed that 48% of the 689 transfers were to another Division 1 school. A majority of the 48% was to a lower level program. The rest left for a Division 2, NAIA or two year college. A lot of transfer situations are made out to be players leaving a high profile school for another high profile school. And while there certainly are some instances of this (i.e. Malik Newman, Cam Johnson, Taurean Thompson), a majority of transfers are players moving to a more suitable playing level.  High school recruits strive to play basketball at the highest level possible. While many can be a part of a team on a certain level, it doesn’t mean they will have their best career at that level. Sometimes it takes getting to campus to realize that. These type of transfers get thrown into that giant number and everyone chalks it up to young players lacking loyalty or commitment. That is not always the case.

If Coaches are Able to Leave for Higher Level Jobs, Why Can’t Players

If head coaches are allowed to jump ship for better opportunities, why do players have to sit out a year? Kevin Keatts doesn’t sit out a year for leaving UNC Wilmington for NC State. But if a UNCW player decided to transfer to NC State, he gets one year of no play. I know, these players are amateur athletes. They aren’t signing contracts like the coaches are when they move schools. But at the end of the day, players and coaches are alike in that basketball is, was, and will be a huge part of their life. They all want to achieve their dream at the highest level possible. I know it hurts small programs when their star player decides to transfer to a high major school. But if that coach can reap the benefits of a few successful seasons, then the player should be able to as well, penalty free.

What Happens When Coaching Staffs Get Fired

I’ve said this earlier this year in the case with Braxton Beverly, when you commit to a school, the coaching staff is a huge reason why. It may not always be the head coach. A lot of recruits form bonds with assistants during the recruiting process. If your coach leaves, or gets fired, and the entire staff is let go, we shouldn’t punish players for seeking other opportunities. They didn’t commit to the new coach that the University brought in. If a University decides to move on from a coach, they should let grant their players and recruits freedom to explore other possibilities.

Would Eliminate Teams from the “Shady” Recruiting Process

This is a little risky, because it could undoubtedly lead to poaching, potentially. But right now, there are some coaches who thrive more in bringing in transfer players than 5 star recruits. Making transfers eligible immediately could potentially eliminate some of the shadiness that exists on college recruiting. There would have to be rules in place as to when a school can begin contact with a transferring player, of course, but it could change the recruiting game.

The transfer number is not going to drastically fall anytime soon. Clearly sitting out a year is not deterring any players from transferring. 330 players transferred from one Division 1 program to another; A majority of those transfers were to a lower level program. Truth is, not a lot of players are jumping around from one high major program to another. That is why I believe this trend is not going to change. I am not encouraging players to jump ship and transfer year after year. I’m not saying this rule should be completely thrown out either. I do think though, that there are many exceptions where players should be deemed eligible immediately. With the right revisions, I do believe this could help the game.

UPDATE:
I am not in favor of this. This would hurt college basketball. A player transferring twice and never needing to sit is not what I am advocating for. I just think there needs to be more lenient circumstances to the rule.

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