There is a proposal at the NCAA Convention being held this week in Indianapolis that would allow student-athletes in football and men’s basketball to transfer without sitting out a year.
For those who view athletes as collegiate cattle, this means armageddon. There will be chaos – athletes running from program to program willy nilly, coaches tampering during handshake lines, and fans confused by constantly changing rosters.
My God! How will college basketball survive an admission that student-athletes are adults capable of making a smart decision that impacts their lives positively, or at least gives them free reign to re-make a very tough initial choice that is often made in a vacuum of ignorance driven by a coach doing a very good impression of a used car salesman (no offense to used car salesmen).
Now I am no fan of bouncing from school to school because a formerly pampered student-athlete receives a dose of adversity (reality) as a result of participation in college sports.
Adversity is the good stuff. Unfortunately, 18-20 year olds don’t understand navigating though challenging situations is the most direct route to maturity and growth.
My advice to a student-athlete experiencing occasional unpleasantness would be to dig deep and find a way past the initial adversity. He or she will then be rewarded by facing an additional level of adversity – and on and on and on and on, because that’s what life is.
It’s good advice, but that doesn’t mean my wisdom should be codified by the NCAA so that a penalty of one-year in athletic limbo serves as a disincentive to changing addresses.
Coaches, also adults but a little bit older and supposedly wiser, get to uproot their families and drop anchor at a new university where they can begin work immediately. The only incentive in many cases is the additional cash they are offered by their new employer.
I’m guessing the outrage from coaches over this adjustment in the transfer rule would be reduced if a similar mandate was enacted to keep them on the shelf for a year.
In many cases transfers leave for more playing time, to play for a different coach, a different academic challenge, or to follow a girl. For coaches, the reason is usually something so crass student-athletes are allowed to engage in its acquisition.
Yes, I’m talking about cash.
Ironically, coaches with school-age children who leave for a more lucrative jobs force the kids to change schools – or transfer. All of the bad stuff possible because of player movement from college to college is delivered to kids because dad gets a little greedy.
Should an NCAA disincentive be activated to save the coaches from their own greed? No? But what about the irreparable consequences that await their children?
Of course coaches should be allowed to do what they believe is best for their careers and family. Who are we – or the NCAA – to make painful that decision?
It’s the prerogative of adults to determine the course of their own lives without rules that interfere with that process.
Let’s be honest about transfer rules. They exist only to protect coaches from being held accountable by employees – whoops, student-athletes – who might decide that their time and work is better invested elsewhere.
Allowing student-athletes in good academic standing to move from school-to-school one time after the end of the spring semester without penalty is a freedom virtually every other student enjoys. It hasn’t meant the end of the world for them, and it won’t mean the end is nigh for athletes.
This change won’t be without immature usage and occasional unpleasant unintended consequences, but doing the right thing isn’t always pretty.
Kent Sterling hosts the fastest growing sportstalk show in Indianapolis on CBS Sports 1430 every weekday from 3p-7p, and writes about Indiana sports at kentsterling.com.