“If you don’t start in college,” Coker said, “it’s pretty tough to move on from there.”

The two sides of the graduate player transfer rule, in a nutshell:

“The whole idea is to play,” said Mike Martz, a former St. Louis Rams coach and a former offensive coordinator in the N.F.L. and in college.

“If a guy transfers because he wants to play and there’s a really good player” ahead of him, Martz said, “you can’t fault him for that.”


But the leverage Coker and players like Florida State’s Everett Golson and Michigan’s Jake Rudock have exerted in recent years has been threatened by a reaction from many college coaches and universities who see competitive chaos and academic de-emphasis in the movement of players.

Last year, the N.C.A.A. curtailed waivers that had allowed undergraduate transfers in high-profile sports like football and men’s basketball to play without having to sit a year. And while graduate transfers can move more freely, they can be restricted from many destinations by their current college. N.C.A.A. rules also prohibit contact, even indirectly, between a player and a potential future college, although the rule is widely flouted via third-party intermediaries like high school coaches, according to many observers who have experience with transfers.

While the stated goal of these restrictions is to encourage transfers who are academically driven and to prevent an anarchic status quo in which athletes are amenable to continual recruitment, at least one official acknowledged the rules could be altered “to minimize the abuse.”

The only thing that’s being abused is coaches’ control of players.  But in the eyes of the NCAA, that’s serious stuff.



Filed under The NCAA

7 responses to ““If you don’t start in college,” Coker said, “it’s pretty tough to move on from there.”

  1. I definitely think they should change the transfer rules. I don’t think it should be that every player becomes a free agent at the end of the season, but a liberalization of the rules is needed to reward behavior and academic performance:
    1) A player kicked off the team for behavior or academics has to satisfy the one-year requirement. You don’t take care of business in the classroom or you steal a laptop … you go JUCO or you sit at your new school for a year.
    2) No restriction on transfer and eligibility for a player who graduates and decides to transfer.
    3) For players who are victims of “roster management,” (grayshirting, cutting, or medical ineligibility) they should have no restrictions on school and eligibility to participate immediately (Call it the Jarvis Jones rule) assuming they are in good standing academically.
    4) For transfers who are voluntary (I want playing time), they should be eligible to participate immediately if the player is in good academic standing, but the university should have the ability to restrict the transfer from conference schools unless the player is willing to sit for a year.
    5) No tampering by other coaches and the penalties should be harsh.

    These suggestions would protect both the S-A and the universities and provide a reasonable basis for player movement.


    • Connor

      Whenever you start thinking about changing the rules for players transferring this is the kind of stuff that comes up. Any rules will become a tool coaches will us to control players. The only thing that makes any sense is no rules, all players allowed to transfer at all times. They’re just students who participate in a little extra-curricular activity, right? Why should there be any restriction on them that’s not on the other “regular” students?


      • If there are serious sanctions against tampering, I would agree.

        Using your comment “The only thing that makes any sense is no rules, all players allowed to transfer at all times.” So, you’re saying it should be OK if a player didn’t get playing time one week at one school, they should be able to transfer on Monday and be eligible to play the following Saturday even if it’s against the athlete’s former school?

        There have to be some rules to protect both the student and the university.


  2. Debby Balcer

    Who decides the difference between 3 and 4? I think they should have able to transfer at all other students can so why not student athletes.


    • Debby, if the school decides not to renew the scholarship or places for reasons other than academic eligibility or behavior or the university places the student on a medical scholarship, the player should be released unconditionally. Schools are subject to the limitation on the number of players on scholarship, so if they are managing the number on scholarship, the S-A shouldn’t have to sit out like they do now unless they drop to another division.

      #4 is the Jacob Park scenario. Assuming the school offers a renewal of the scholarship and the S-A decides not to accept, the university should have the protection from players jumping to another school in their conference. The player (assuming good academic standing) could go to another D1 program and be eligible immediately.


  3. All students should be able to transfer, like a Georgia student who flunked should be able to transfer to a lower tier school like Aubum, LOL.