Tate Martell’s attorney is trying to soft sell the impact of the NCAA’s decision to grant his client a transfer waiver.
“This was a fact and circumstances case,” Leach said by phone Tuesday. “I don’t think this is something you will see a wholesale change to the way people look at [NCAA transfer cases]. It was a unique situation.”
He wouldn’t say what those unique facts were, but Martell’s new school was happy to fill in the blanks.
▪ Leach, according to a UM source, made the case that after landing quarterback Justin Fields from Georgia, Ohio State made no efforts to keep Martell. This argument carried weight with the NCAA.
After Ohio State landed Fields, the relationship between Martell and the Buckeyes obviously was impacted, and “no efforts were made by Ohio State to rectify the feelings between the two,” the source said. “Tate felt it was in his and Ohio State’s best interests to transfer.
Ohio State did not object to that or try to get him to change his mind.”
▪ Leach, according to those UM sources, made the case that once Martell entered the transfer portal, he was no longer affiliated with the Ohio State program and was essentially a free agent because of the way their divorce went down.
Here’s why: By the time he entered the portal, Ohio State had shown no interest in Martell staying.
“At that point,” according to a UM source, “he’s run off and now has to find a new home and found [UM].”
Now, that’s a rather sizeable leap being made there. Showing no interest is not the same thing as being run off. Nobody has made the statement that Ohio State revoked Martell’s scholarship.
And let’s take a moment to recall a couple of things here. One, Martell’s initial reaction to the news that Fields was interested in an Ohio State transfer wasn’t to tuck tail and run. Two, don’t forget that Martell once pondered a transfer waiver after the news of Urban Meyer’s suspension.
It’s hard to see this as anything more than a kid looking for greener pastures.
It’s also worth remembering what the NCAA’s waiver guidelines say.
In April, the NCAA’s Division I Council provided new guidelines for undergraduate transfer waivers:
■ The transfer is due to documented mitigating circumstances that are outside the student-athlete’s control and directly impact the health, safety, and well-being of the student-athlete;
■ At the time of transfer to the certifying institution, the student-athlete would have been athletically and academically eligible and in good standing on the team had he or she remained at the previous institution;
■ The certifying institution must certify that the student-athlete meets percentage-of-degree requirements; and
■ The previous institution’s athletics administration does not oppose the transfer.
Martell doesn’t meet the first of those criteria, and it doesn’t sound like Miami is even making a half-hearted effort to argue that he did. To meet the rest, though, Martell would have to be “in good standing on the team had he or she remained at the previous institution”, which would seem to be contradicted by an argument that he was being run off by Ohio State.
In other words, most of this is bullshit. Martell wanted gone once it was clear he was being supplanted by Fields. Ryan Day didn’t have a problem accommodating Martell in that regard. That’s it. And here’s the thing — there’s nothing wrong with granting a transfer waiver under those circumstances. If a kid doesn’t want to stay at a program and his coach doesn’t care if he leaves, then why should there be a limitation imposed on his decision to transfer? Indeed, that should be the easiest of calls.
Unfortunately, nobody seems willing to couch the NCAA’s decision in such a way, and that’s because the waiver guidelines don’t allow for it. In my mind, that’s why I feel the floodgates have opened; if you’ve got a rule that you don’t care to follow, it’s not much of a rule.
The next test case I’m curious to follow will be the one where a coach “releases” a player, but restricts the kid from transferring to certain programs and the player, or more accurately, the player’s attorney objects. Is that a situation where the player is being run off, or not?
Hair splitting is a beyotch.