Since I began this blog more than five years ago, I have noticed an unmistakable trend regarding the media’s coverage of collegiate athletics. Issues such as NCAA rules and the National Letter of Intent (NLI), which once seemed relevant only to athletic directors and compliance officers, are now regularly discussed in the media and by the public.
Most recently, Greg Bishop of the New York Times tackled transfer rules in an excellent article entitled “Want to Play at a Different College? O.K., but Not There or There.” Bishop focuses on the common practice of a limited release, whereby a coach grants a student-athlete permission to seek a transfer, but only to certain schools. The rationale for this rule is that it prevents coaches from attempting to recruit the student-athletes of their competitors.
Bishop includes some suggestions for improvements to the rules from Don Jackson, John Infante and Ed Cunningham. Infante supports a one-time transfer exception for students who have finished one year of college; Cunningham believes that student-athletes should be allowed to transfer after two or three years at one school; and Jackson believes that student-athletes should be able to transfer at will, like regular students.
In my opinion, the rationale for this rule is backwards. Student-athletes should not be punished because rival coaches are likely to break recruiting rules. No student-athlete should be required to obtain a waiver to transfer to a new school unless that student-athlete was awarded a four-year scholarship. If the school has only committed to the student-athlete for one year, his or her commitment should be limited to one year. After that year, the student-athlete should be free to transfer to any school without permission from his or her coach.
Here’s hoping that increased awareness will lead to positive changes.
Check out my coverage of NCAA transfer rules: