If you’re looking for the best sky-is-falling take on the revised NCAA transfer rules, which, remember, aren’t even binding on the conferences, this baby should be right up your alley.
Imagine it’s December 2019.
A wide receiver just caught a 40-yard pass on the first drive of the season finale, straddling the sideline and setting up first and goal for Arkansas State University.
Now imagine coaching staffs assembled across the country — in Ann Arbor, in Tuscaloosa, in Fayetteville — watching the game around conference tables, taking notes: Good size, great hands/balance, UNDERCLASSMAN.
The Red Wolves receiver is named the bowl game’s MVP. The coaching staffs click their TVs off and scroll through their cellphone contact lists for the receiver’s high school coach or mentor. By the time the team bus returns to Jonesboro, the receiver has made up his mind.
He walks into the coaches office and declares his intention to transfer. Within days, the news breaks on social media, and by the time the 2020 season kicks off, the receiver is catching passes in a Power 5 team’s uniform.
No sitting out a year. No restrictions.
This hypothetical isn’t possible today, but the NCAA took a step in that direction when its Division I Council on Wednesday eliminated the requirement that athletes have to receive permission from their athletic departments to transfer and receive financial aid from another school.
The change was in the works for a while, sparked by examples such as Kansas State Coach Bill Snyder blocking receiver Corey Sutton last year from transferring to as many as 35 schools. Snyder received widespread blow back before he finally allowed Sutton to transfer to Appalachian State.
Wednesday’s rule was proposed by an NCAA committee called the Transfer Working Group. But back in April, the Division I Committee on Academics — yeah, a lot of committees — asked the Transfer Working Group to draw up another rule that would allow players to transfer to other institutions and play immediately if they have a GPA between 3.0 and 3.3.
Not just in football. Basketball. Baseball. Bowling.
Thus would begin the age of collegiate free agency.
Cue ominous prairie dog.
I could spend quite of bit of bandwidth knocking down his specific concerns — so could most of you, I suspect — but there’s one in particular I’m really shaking my head over, for reasons that will become apparent.
And there won’t be a sheriff in all the country who could enforce the GPA requirement.
Just as players could skate around it by taking easy classes, coaches could sabotage their players by enrolling them in tough ones.
“You don’t think some coaches are going to go, ‘Let’s put him in Microbiology II so we can bring his GPA down?’ ” UCA men’s basketball Coach Russ Pennell. “It’s going to be some crazy stuff to try and regulate that within your own house.”
Russ, that’s some cool stuff there — a coach is going to enroll a kid against his/her will into some tough class and in the same breath it’s going to be hard for the coach’s own athletic department to regulate that? Maybe I’m going out on a limb here, but that’s probably not a program the kid should have committed to in the first place.
In any event, those of you who are convinced that making student-athletes conform to the general standards of admittance of a given school is the silver bullet that will save amateur collegiate sports, how exactly will that work at a school with crappy academic standards and (for the sake of argument) student-athletes and coaches seeking to manipulate the system? Just askin’.