There’s a proposal on the table to change NCAA transfer rules that, if passed, would allow football and men’s basketball players to switch schools and remain immediately eligible to play.
If you listened to coaches, and former coaches now in the media, bemoan what a tragedy this would be you might think they were discussing the legalization of rape and murder (you know, everywhere other than Baylor where they are already OK with that kind of thing). The coaches, and a significant percentage of fans believe opening up transfer rules will ruin the sports.
But has anyone offered a reason why players shouldn’t have this kind of freedom that hasn’t been 100-percent self serving? Coaches don’t want to see their jobs get more complicated. Some fans are opposed to anything that has potential to disrupt their favorite teams pursuit of a championship.
Why should any of that justify trapping players in bad situations? Coaches face no penalty if they move on to a job that’s a better fit or opportunity. The best violinist at Rice can leave for Indiana and immediately join the orchestra.
Putting restrictions on athletic transfers is only a thing because coaches have much greater over the rulemaking process than players. Somehow 18-year-olds are expected to make an undying commitment to a school and program when nobody else involved is held to the same standard.
Coaches, athletic directors and even university presidents move to new schools every year.
College-aged kids often just aren’t prepared to make long-term commitments to anything. There are any number of bad situations that can arise for a young adult away from home for the first time.
And, believe it or not, the recruiting pitch used by coaches to get them there in the first place aren’t always entirely honest.
Still, it’s easy to understand the trepidation. Free agency for college players adds a new elements to a coach’s job. It will take some stupid getting used to.
But the way coaches are preaching a change to NCAA transfer rules would create absolute chaos and kill college sports is nonsense. Not if commonsense rules are put in place.
Just because players would have the freedom to pursue other options doesn’t mean coaches have to be allowed to recruit off another team’s roster. Simply allow players to reach out two coaches if they want to transfer, but install stiff penalties for any program caught poaching or tampering with another school’s team.
Look, any of us who love college sports love the idea of a star player signing with our favorite school and playing there four years. But it’s 2017 and college sports has become a huge business that makes everyone other than the players rich.
The least we can do is phase out the system of indentured servanthood for amateurs athletes.