Category Archives: Transfers Are For Coaches.

Extenuating and extraordinary

Sounds like the transfer waiver shoe is about to drop.

The NCAA Division I council is expected to approve a package of new guidelines that could make it more difficult for college football and basketball players who transfer to receive immediate eligibility via waivers, according to a document obtained by USA TODAY Sports.

The council is scheduled to meet Wednesday in Indianapolis to review the updated guidelines and directives, which in many cases appear to specify and narrow the circumstances in which athletes should be given waivers and raise the documentation requirements to obtain them. Compliance staffs at Division I schools were made aware of the proposals last week.

The new guidelines are not rules but essentially a set of directions for the Committee on Legislative Relief, which decides whether or not to grant the waivers…

In 2018, the NCAA implemented a new policy that would allow waivers to be granted on a case-by-case basis by the committee if the athlete could demonstrate “documented mitigating circumstances outside of the student-athlete’s control and directly impacts the health, safety or well-being of the student-athlete.”

… The updated language of that same guideline is less broad, requiring “documented extenuating, extraordinary and mitigating circumstances outside of the student-athlete’s control that directly impacts the health, safety or well-being of the student-athlete.”

How do you know the seemingly arbitrary nature of the waiver process had become a problem?  Because even Tom Mars thinks an adjustment is called for.

“Across the board, the proposed new guidelines raise the bar for schools seeking a waiver on behalf of a student-athlete,” said attorney Tom Mars, who has represented a number of high-profile athletes in waiver cases over the last year. “Given the dramatic increase in the number of waivers being sought for the 2019-20 season, raising the bar strikes me as a sensible short-term reaction by the Legislative Council.”

I still say an objective, one-time open transfer makes a lot more sense.  We’ll see what this leads to in the meantime.

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“It’s not my job to make them happy.”

Good piece in The Athletic ($$) about how coaches have to adapt — if they have to adapt, that is — to life after the transfer portal.

Two quotes worth sharing, the first being from Nick Saban.

“You have to make it about them. This is the most self-absorbed generation there’s ever been,” Saban said.“There’s more information — internet, Facebook, Twitter — coming at ’em. It’s hard for them to focus on exactly what they have to do and make commitments to be successful because they get positive self-gratification from so many other things. So now you expect them to walk into a room and just buy in to what you say? You’ve gotta show them in some kind of way how it’s gonna benefit them to do the things you want them to do. And I think this has been key to our success.”

Just as important, Saban argued, you have to learn how to reach every player for who they are and what their attitude is. You have to understand how they see the world, not just how you see it.

“I think that’s very important for all of us, to sort of adapt and adjust as we go through what we do,” he said.

This is why the man is a stone-cold fabulous recruiter.  He knows his audience and he knows how to sell his program to his audience.  (Of course, it helps that he’s got a credible track record to go along with his sales pitch.)  Swag may get you in the door, but it takes more than swag to sign elite class after elite class.

It also takes burying one’s ego a little, too, something that’s got to be hard when you’re an alpha male at the top of your profession.  Here’s something from Stanford’s David Shaw about that:

“We are some of the biggest self-interest group there is, right?” Stanford coach David Shaw said. “So we want to be great recruiters, and then when it doesn’t go well, we also want to blame the young people for these decisions. We have a big stake in that. We have a big part in shaping the mentality of the young people that we recruit. When a young man transfers after a year, then there was something wrong with the process.”

I think the header to this post expresses the right attitude for a coach to take, but if you can’t make a talented kid see the value in his role on the team and the process going forward, that’s on you as a coach… unless you no longer see that value, either.

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Desperate times call for desperate portal measures

Lovie Smith’s roster shuffle at Illinois should make for an interesting controlled experiment into how quickly a program rebuild can go via the transfer portal.

On the surface, it makes more sense than loading up a recruiting class with Juco players.  Plus, you can always go back to the well once you figure out what works best.

We hear the most from coaches complaining about losing talent, but this is the other side of the coin and it’ll be worth watching to see how things shake out across the college football landscape as everyone works their way through the changes — including players and the NCAA.

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“It wasn’t like we were recording it while it was happening.”

The NCAA serves up another heaping slice of slippery-slope pie.

Kent State defensive back Qwuantrezz Knight will appeal the NCAA’s denial of his waiver request for immediate eligibility, which he says is based on depression he developed while playing at Maryland.

Knight, a junior from Quincy, Florida, announced his transfer from Maryland on Nov. 5, six days after the school fired coach DJ Durkin, who had briefly been reinstated from administrative leave after two investigations into the football program. Knight transferred to Kent State and in May sought an immediate eligibility waiver, citing “depression symptoms due to the environment he experienced on the University of Maryland’s football team,” Kent State associate director for compliance Stephanie Rosinski wrote to the NCAA in a letter Knight provided to ESPN.

The NCAA’s committee on legislative relief denied Knight’s request June 4, writing that Knight “did not provide objective documentation that supports the assertion that [he] was the victim of egregious behavior” at Maryland.

Look, I get something of the dilemma here.  You don’t want kids cropping up all over the place claiming depression as grounds for a transfer waiver without some verifiable basis for it.  But, jeez, what more do they need regarding what happened at Maryland?  There’s all kinds of documented evidence of abuse that the school itself discovered.

Knight’s statement cites two incidents from Maryland’s weight room, one in which a 45-pound plate allegedly was thrown at a teammate who wasn’t performing a workout correctly, and another in which a teammate allegedly was berated and forced to eat junk food for not making the weight required by the staff. Rosinski writes in her letter than both incidents involved former Maryland strength and conditioning coach Rick Court in 2016. Court and Maryland parted ways in August, days after an ESPN report detailed allegations of abuse within the program, several of which allegedly involved Court.

A university-commissioned investigation into the program found that Court “engaged in abusive conduct” while at Maryland. Rosinski writes that while the weight room incidents didn’t directly involve Knight, the impact on his mental health “should not be minimized.”  Knight doesn’t recall speaking with the investigative committee about his experience at Maryland but included the report in his waiver request.

It’s the kid’s bad luck he didn’t speak on the record.  And that’s the hair the NCAA decides to split.

“They [the NCAA] know what happened there, but they need more evidence as to things that happened to me,” Knight told ESPN. “It wasn’t like we were recording it while it was happening. Everything that was going on there, from the coaching culture and everything, you don’t really need evidence from that. Everything that you guys read, that was true. What more evidence do you need?

“I’m a kid that was actually there and went through it and witnessed everything. … I was definitely affected by it.”

I guess it’s too bad the FBI hasn’t investigated the Maryland coaching staff.  The NCAA needs to do away with this shabby, subjective approach and simply give every student-athlete one chance to transfer and play immediately, no questions asked.  Shameful.

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“This movement of student-athlete freedom has gone too far to turn back now.”

Count Tom Mars as someone who thinks the NCAA is going to get out of the transfer waiver business soon by adopting a “a one-time, no-questions-asked transfer” process.

“The absence of any logic in penalizing student-athletes becomes even more apparent when one considers the freedom that other college students have to transfer without penalty,” Mars said. “After all, there’s no rule that requires a college violinist with a scholarship to be barred from playing in any concerts for a year following their transfer to another school. What’s more, when a student-musician transfers, you never hear anyone say ‘by giving you a scholarship, we paid for you to stay here until you graduate.’”

Ah, logic.  I forgot, this is the NCAA we’re dealing with.

Seriously, this makes too much sense not to adopt — even for the NCAA.  At least I think it does.

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You can’t tell the players without a (portal) scorecard.

Two schools jump out there:  Arkansas, which is obviously using the portal to remake its roster in an accelerated manner, and Missouri, which, despite facing serious NCAA sanctions, hasn’t lost a single player yet.

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No rhyme or reason

Shot.

The NCAA doesn’t typically reveal why it grants some waivers of the mandatory “year in residence” for transfers and denies others. Illinois tight end Luke Ford is one player left wondering why his waiver request was denied.

Ford — the top-rated recruit in Illinois in the Class of 2018 — transferred from Georgia to Illinois in January, citing his grandparents’ failing health and his desire to play closer to home. He’s from Carterville, Ill., which is about 190 miles south of Champaign, and Illinois is one of the closest major football programs to his hometown.

The NCAA in 2012 established a distance limit of 100 miles in cases like Ford’s.

An Illinois spokesman said in a statement Wednesday that the program is disappointed in the decision to deny Ford’s waiver request and plans to help him appeal.

“My Waiver got denied,” Ford tweeted Wednesday. “Thanks for all your support. It’s all in the Lord’s timing.”

Apparently, it’s also up to the NCAA’s whims.

The NCAA also this week denied a waiver for immediate eligibility for offensive lineman Brock Hoffman, who transferred from Coastal Carolina to Virginia Tech to be closer to his mother. She had surgery in 2017 to remove a brain tumor and now struggles with facial paralysis and hearing and eyesight loss, but Hoffman said on Twitter that the NCAA denied his request because his hometown is five miles outside the 100-mile radius and because it said his mother’s condition is improving.

Chaser.

I don’t care which side of the transfer waiver divide you stand on, if you’re a fair-minded person, this has to be nothing but rank bullshit.  It comes off as little more than a random exercise of power over young men’s lives, young men who are already troubled with family problems.  To insist on enforcing some arbitrary measure is cruel.

I’ll say it again — just give every kid one bite at the immediate transfer apple and be done with it.  What the NCAA has done with these two, especially in light of the Martell decision, seems little better than the pre-portal days when coaches could arbitrarily block players’ movement.  Very sad for Ford and Hoffman, who deserve better.

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