Aside from the corruption scandal that has rocked the NCAA college basketball landscape, another development has garnered significant attention this off-season.
An NCAA working group is mulling a proposal that would allow immediate eligibility for all transferring student athletes as long as they meet certain academic benchmarks. Currently, in most cases, athletes transferring from basketball or football programs must sit out one full academic year per NCAA rules. But this proposal would mean that players in good academic standing can transfer anywhere at the end of the current season and be immediately eligible for (and receive financial aid from) their new school before the next.
Although the proposal is still in its infancy and probably won’t come to light anytime soon, many college coaches are already up in arms about the potential chaos that might result from such a standard. They claim that it would open the college game to a “free agency” nightmare where programs will be recruiting current players in addition to high school seniors, leaving more potential for tampering and recruiting violations as well as program “instability” from constant turnover.
But these are just complaints from paid coaches that are can “transfer” from one program to the next without any penalty whatsoever. They are missing what this does for the student athlete.
We know that college basketball is a business now, and short of paying players as the financial assets they are, this is one way to provide a level of fairness and flexibility for players who might be stuck in a bad situation. Sure, there are going to be abuses, but it’s not like those abuses aren’t already happening under the current structure.
Besides, the NCAA will certainly try to maintain some control through the academic benchmarks and other provisions, so this shouldn’t be as big a deal as coaches make it out to be.
The only real loser in this situation, would be the smaller Division I programs, which would potentially lose their best players every year to nationally-ranked programs looking to fill sudden voids on their rosters. Such a practice would continue to ensure the rich get richer and the poor remain poor, as the smaller programs struggle to maintain some measure of consistency amid a rapidly-changing roster.
So, in short, if this rule were to ever come to fruition, it would mean more freedom for the student athlete, but overall more disparity among the college basketball landscape. For fans, it will probably make following and supporting a particular team a little more complicated. But then, it’s not really about you, is it?