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Why changing the transfer rules would be one of the worst things to ever happen to college sports

I’ll be the first to admit that at times, us media folk (myself certainly included) can be a little bit prone to hyperbole. We exaggerate everything, turning games into “battles” and coaching decisions into life or death decisions. Even if for the most part they are inconsequential. Therefore, when I say that there’s a new rule that could be coming which might “change college sports forever” I know what most of you are probably thinking: Sure, Torres. Sounds like a whole bunch of hyperbole to me.

Only it isn’t, and here me out.

That rule has been a much-discussed alteration to the current transfer rules in major college football and basketball. As all of you know, the current rule states that if a player decides to transfer from one school to another, they must (unless they’ve already graduated) sit out for at least a year. It’s a rule that’s designed to protect both the school and coach, but also players from making any rash, emotional, poorly-thought out decisions.

Or at least that was the rule, as it’s looking more and more like things are about to change in college sports, and football and basketball players will now be allowed to transfer from one school and play right away at the next. It’s something that’s been reported for months, but really picked up steam on Wednesday when ESPN’s Matt Schick tweeted that he’d heard from an NCAA source that it’s “95 percent certain” to pass. A different source told me something similar, and that the change could go into effect as early as February.

And ultimately while I hate to use hyperbole, what I said above is correct: This is a rule which could alter college sports forever. It could also be one of the worst thing that has ever happened to major college football and basketball, and create way more problems than it helps.

To understand why, you have to understand why the rule was put into place in the first place. I know I already said it up top, but it’s worth repeating here: The rule was and is a two-way street, intended to protect both the schools and players from anyone making a rash decision. The player might want to leave the school for any number of reasons, whether it was homesickness, playing time or any other reason a college athlete decides that one school isn’t the right fit for him. At the same time, when a player was forced to sit out for one season it made he or she think as well. It made them think: Is this all really worth it? As frustrated as I am, is it worth sitting out a year somewhere else? Or is it better for me to grit my teeth and get through this? For some players, the year out is worth it. For many others, it made them reconsider a tough situation and stick put.

Looking across the college landscape, there are dozens of players that fit both sides of the coin. We know about any number of high-profile transfers in college basketball, whether it’s Malik Newman at Kansas, Charles Matthews at Michigan or dozens of others, who all decided at some point in their careers “I need a fresh start” and never looked back.

What many people don’t know is that there are just as many players who are on the opposite side, those who considered transferring but decided to stick it out and have thrived. Just as an example, star Notre Dame guard Matt Farrell has openly admitted that he nearly transferred after his sophomore year. Instead, he stuck around, has turned into an All-ACC caliber point guard, and will eventually end up with a degree from Notre Dame. Not many casual fans may know the name “Noah Dickerson” but he’s a player who nearly left Washington after its coaching change last spring. Instead, he decided to stick it out, is averaging 14 points per game and has the Huskies in the hunt for an NCAA Tournament berth.

But if there weren’t a transfer rule barring them from sitting out, would they have made the same decision? Would others, like (just as example) Kansas’ Devonte Graham or Louisville’s Ray Spaulding be willing to work their way up from struggling freshmen to players who became stars their junior and senior years? Or would they have jumped to another school at the first sign of adversity? Those two are just examples, but what’s to keep dozens of kids every year from leaving their school the first time they get benched mid-game or yelled at in practice? From a coaches perspective, that’s one of their biggest fears. They won’t be able to actually “coach” a player. If they player doesn’t like what the coach has to say, they’ll just get up and leave.

But even worse than the players, think about what the coaches would be doing behind the scenes to make it all happen? We all hear about “tampering” in the transfer market, and without players having to sit out, can you imagine how bad it would be? I’ve had coaches tell me that if this rule passes, it isn’t an exaggeration to believe that big-time schools would literally use regular season games to scout other team’s players. For example, if say, a player from Davidson had a big game against Kansas, what’s to stop the Kansas coaching staff from stopping the player in the handshake line and saying “You should come play here?” To a degree, it may already happen. But if a player didn’t have to sit out and could transfer freely, it would happen a lot more. Believe me.

And it’s not just players transferring from small schools to big schools, but again, think of it from the opposite perspective.

John Calipari recruits somewhere between four and eight Top 50 type recruits every year, and while some (John Wall, De’Aaron Fox, Bam Adebayo) become instant stars, many struggle. Tyler Ulis wasn’t a star his first season at Kentucky, and neither were future first round draft picks like Willie Cauley-Stein and Terrence Jones. Some of those guys took time to develop, but would they have stuck around and developed at Kentucky? Or would some other coach text a struggling Ulis or Cauley-Stein after a game and say “Hey, you could be playing 30 minutes a night here, rather than being a back-up.” If you don’t think that’d happen routinely, you’re out of your mind.

That’s also why, for the most part, I just don’t see the need for this rule to change. Sure, some things can be tweaked (like a player being allowed to transfer if their coach is fired or leaves) but for the most part, the rule is good as is.

Nothing is perfect. But altering the transfer rule would create chaos in college basketball and football.

It isn’t hyperbole to say that it’s one of the worst things that could happen to college sports.

Article written by Aaron Torres

Aaron Torres is covering football and basketball for KSR this season after four years at Fox Sports. Follow him on Twitter @Aaron_Torres, Facebook or e-mail at [email protected] He is also the author of the only book written on the Calipari era, “One and Fun: A Behind the Scenes Look at John Calipari and the 2010 Kentucky Wildcats.”

27 Comments for Why changing the transfer rules would be one of the worst things to ever happen to college sports

  1. ukkatzfan
    3:13 pm January 18, 2018 Permalink

    You are being a drama queen. If coaches can leave on the drop of a dime, students should be able to also. If a student wants to change colleges every year for 8 years… no problem. Why the limit on 4-5 years. If joe blow student who is good at football wants a medical degree, why not let them play 8 years. Why limit athletes when they dont limit students. NCAA is a waste.

    • jaws2
      3:17 pm January 18, 2018 Permalink

      Soooooo, you really think that 24-27 yr olds should be playing against 19 yr olds? Geeez, think prior to posting man.

    • ukkatzfan
      6:39 pm January 18, 2018 Permalink

      If they are college students,why not. Jaws2, think before you reply. Make your own comment and leave me out if it.

    • rickwhitetx
      3:25 pm January 18, 2018 Permalink

      Well, then, why limit it to once a year? Why not let the “student” transfer at the drop of a hat? And, while we’re at it, why require them to go to school full time, why not make it a minimum of one course?

      Oh wait … I’ve got it … one spring semester course and you can play basketball for the school. How long would it take one to graduate if they took one course a year? And since the movement is on to pay these guys and let them have proceeds from jersey sales, you could spend your entire career going from college to college.


    • Realme
      3:34 pm January 18, 2018 Permalink

      We have a 24 (ish) year old joining our football team next season.

    • krautdog
      6:41 pm January 18, 2018 Permalink

      Yeah, work your way up…..ask Gunner Hoak about that!!!!!

    • ukfan8293
      3:36 pm January 18, 2018 Permalink

      @RickWhiteTX just to be clear students do not have to pass any classes in the spring to play in the spring. They also only technically have to pass 6 credits in the fall and be full time in the spring to continue playing. And for guys who only stay one year why wouldn’t you do the bare minimum?

    • jaws2
      4:23 pm January 18, 2018 Permalink

      Sure realme, the guys a punter, not a football player.

  2. RealCatsFan
    3:36 pm January 18, 2018 Permalink

    Is anyone else seeing a bunch of strange control characters in the body of the text, or is it just something going on with my browser?

    • RealCatsFan
      3:39 pm January 18, 2018 Permalink

      Also, is that really Emmert in the picture, or is that a wax mannequin of him?

    • Realme
      3:39 pm January 18, 2018 Permalink

      It’s not you. It seems to have lost it’s mind over apostrophes.

    • Realme
      3:40 pm January 18, 2018 Permalink

      Ha ha maybe he’s a robot.

    • binarysolo
      5:46 pm January 18, 2018 Permalink

      This stuff happens when you write an article in a program like Microsoft Word that has its own special characters for quotation marks and apostrophes, and it gets pasted into a blogging platform that doesn’t recognize them.

  3. Realme
    3:37 pm January 18, 2018 Permalink

    Seems like a couple years ago this was one of the big gripes everyone had with the NCAA. That Coaches could come and go as they please, but athletes had to stall their life for a year if they decide they’re in the wrong place.

    Now that they are going to change the rule, everyone thinks it’s terrible. I say wait and see. Maybe they will put enough guidelines in place that it doesn’t become disruptive and unfair.

    • RealCatsFan
      3:41 pm January 18, 2018 Permalink

      Why don’t they just change the rule to allow a player to transfer and play right away if the coach leaves or gets fired, or the school falls under NCAA investigation? Otherwise you have to wait a year, unless some other hardship is proven.

  4. Harlanian
    3:38 pm January 18, 2018 Permalink

    I&*# agree%&&&? 100 ((^*#@ Percent

    • RealCatsFan
      3:39 pm January 18, 2018 Permalink

      Oh, OK, now I know it’s not just me!

    • kenny
      5:28 pm January 18, 2018 Permalink


    • KYcats11
      6:40 pm January 18, 2018 Permalink

      Haha, I was thinking my|& phone###@$%; had&’* a bug/! as&! well.

  5. pinch9
    4:09 pm January 18, 2018 Permalink

    This makes recruiting very difficult because a coach would never know for sure how many players they would have coming back each year.

  6. serdi
    7:04 pm January 18, 2018 Permalink

    October 13, 2017 was the end of any smidgen of integrity and strong morale fiber that the NCAA might have. When you allow the greatest fraud and cheaters of all time walk with out 3 banners coming down and probably a 1,000 victories being wiped off the record, the NCAA has no credibility. They don’t care what is right or wrong.

    You just wait when some kid who is a superstar wants to transfer to UK and the slimeballs will find some reason that the kid can’t transfer…then they will allow the kid to transfer to Duke or Kansas or Michigan State. Just another move to take care of their buddies.

  7. brainesman
    7:05 pm January 18, 2018 Permalink

    College athletes are basically the people in America who have their freedom of movement limited like this. Almost anyone else can leave a bad situation whether it be at work or where they live and continue to do their livelihood but cranky old men (most of whom could move or take a new job tomorrow if they felt like) want them to “wait their chance” or “tough it out”.

    Sure, college sports would change but we’d get use to it. The millionaire coaches — who could take a better job in a more favorable location tomorrow if they so choose — would find a way to adjust. Yeah, it hurts the coaches. I just don’t feel sympathy for them.

    Aaron, you know that if ESPN offered you a job that was much better for you and your family, you’d take it. No one would blame you. But you want these young men recruited by what oftentimes are empty promises and glamor to have to sit out a year of their livelihood to correct a mistake they made when they were 17?

    I won’t even argue that this might not hurt college sports some. It very well could, and I’ll dread the list of UK players transferring every January. But we like what we are used to and we only know the rule that is currently in place. This rule might have a much smaller effect than intended.

    Either way, this is about right and wrong, not inconveniencing coaches and forcing young men to wait out a chance to possibly play the next season. Only in the bizarre world of college sports could a rule like this exists. That’s not a good thing.

  8. Tater Soup
    7:55 pm January 18, 2018 Permalink

    I’m afraid y’all are looking at this potential gold mine as it’s a lump of coal, and sound A LOT like you work for the NCAA. Hear me out…

    Year in and year out, what’s our biggest/only weakness? Experience/leadership. We’re forced to look for a graduate transfer if any of a high enough caliber are available. Now, Cal can recruit to eliminate our only flaw. And honestly, he may not have to recruit at all. Chances are that solid, experienced players will likely seek us out in their latter years in order to improve their draft stock through the UK brand. Additionally, if programs are allowed to pay players based on jersey sales (or whatever), BBN is everywhere and I’m willing to wager we’d sale more jerseys than 95% of other programs (i.e. more money for the player).

    Why hold a kid back? This is America, man. The establishment (NCAA) has been controlling the hell out of these two sports for years. For what? For their and for each Univeristy’s monetary gain, that’s what.

    I think it’s a win win. I truly feel that we’ll (Cal) come out on top in this deal and he’ll be “ruining college basketball” all over again. Think about it… he’s always ahead of the curve.

  9. Luether
    7:59 pm January 18, 2018 Permalink

    Aaron, as usual, your argument is very compelling and makes a lot of sense. The proposed rule change would definitely hurt college sports. Benny Snell will be off to Ohio State, Alabama, or Georgia before the ink is dry…

    • Tater Soup
      11:10 pm January 18, 2018 Permalink

      Bro… do you know if Benny would go from being the chiseled in stone feature back to competing for carries for teams that wouldn’t offer him a scholarship in the beginning? Don’t get me wrong, there a plenty of kids that would jump at the chance, but not all of them will/would. I don’t think a fighter like Benny is so quick to jump on a bandwagon like you do.

  10. Aristocat
    12:31 am January 19, 2018 Permalink

    Wouldn’t a simpler solution to this problem be to place the same 1 year sit-out restrictions on coaches unless the school they’re departing waives it? If a coach is terminated, they would obviously be allowed to start coaching elsewhere immediately, and players would also be allowed to transfer if their coach leaves.
    Seems like that would be pretty fair to all parties.

  11. hhrjmoore
    10:20 am January 19, 2018 Permalink

    We are a player’s 1st program, so we should all love this rule bc it benefits the players. There should be some rules like you cant follow a coach to a school he is leaving for. I do think this will help us though. Some of the kids who don’t fit in will be able to leave and go to schools and play the way they want to play. Then in recruiting we don’t have to worry about who is going to be here and who isn’t. If Cal gets a kid who is #1 or 2 and the person on the team doesn’t want to deal with being benched, then let them leave and do whats best for them. That is what cal is always saying, “Whats best for them”