Apparently, the NCAA is looking into making it easier for kids to make informed decisions about their future. According to this article from George Schroeder on the USA Today website, the NCAA is looking into a potential rule change. The change will prevent schools from blocking contact from certain schools when a kid is looking to transfer.
This is fantastic news, though I am not optimistic that the NCAA will get it right. Transfer rules on athletes, but no such restrictions on coaches and administrators, seems unfair. While I am not yet in the camp that kids should be able to transfer whenever they want, I do believe they should be able to transfer at least once without penalty. I am 42 and I haven’t quite figured out what I want to do with my life, or made big plans for the next 4 years. Why do we expect these kids to know exactly who they are at 17, and make the best choice possible for their future? Some kids fall in and out of love with the sport they have chosen to play, and want to increase or decrease the emphasis. Some kids physically grow and catch up. Some kids might want to change schools because they want to become a dentist, and their current school isn’t conducive to that career path. Sometimes, kids just want a fresh start at a new place.
A big reason schools can block other schools from talking to their guy or gal, with almost no restrictions, is to preserve competition. I can’t emphasize enough how much I am not ok with this. I watch college athletics because I want to see student athletes compete in a sport they most likely wont be playing at the professional level. If I want to watch pro sports, I’ll watch pro athletes, who are vastly superior. That’s how the NCAA institutions can get away with not paying players. If it’s about the kids, then they have to be able to make informed choices about where they plan on continuing their education. If that means a kid might transfer to a rival, so be it.
This is a Big Ten website, so the focus is going to be on football first. Taking the kids and their interests out of the equation, this rule will actually help. There isn’t going to be much movement within the Big Ten. Kids that are starting at Purdue aren’t going to uproot themselves because they might have a chance to start at Michigan. What you’ll see is the example in the article. A kid at a power 5 program that is disgruntled, probably because of playing time, that will jump down to a smaller school. That frees up a scholarship for the next blue chip recruit. It also gives the power 5 school an advantage on the recruiting trail. There would be no reason for a kid deciding between the big school and the little school to choose the little school initially, since he can always transfer down at a later date.
Basketball is where it gets tricky. Because the number of athletes on the teams are much smaller, and the NBA and it’s developmental league poaches eligible players at a much greater rate, kids will transfer more often within the conference. One good year can propel a kid to riches, so they aren’t going to wait long to see the court. I am ok with that, because ultimately, it’s about the kid and his/her learning process, both in the classroom and in life.
We are a nation of second chances, so that should be reflected in the NCAA transfer policy. Each student athlete should get a free transfer to the school of their choice, with no penalties from the NCAA. They should be allowed to contact any school they want to see if there is interest, and what kind of opportunities await both on the field and in the classroom. Any transfers after that would require a year wait before they can see the field.