Mallett Decision Correct, Unfortunate

As someone who loves to bash the NCAA it's not easy to admit it when the powers that be in collegiate athletics get it right. But that's certainly the case as it relates to the NCAA rejecting Ryan Mallett's petition for immediate eligibility at Arkansas.

The NCAA correctly ruled that the quarterback who transferred from Michigan after the hiring of Rich Rodriguez must sit out the 2008 season.

It's definitely the right ruling.

And it stinks.

It's the right ruling because under NCAA rules players must sit out unless they transfer under "hardship" circumstances. That is designed primarily for players who ask to transfer to be closer to a child or an ailing relative. A drastic change in the offensive system at the previous institution does not reach that level of stress.

It stinks because the rule is typical of the rampant hypocrisy that dominates the NCAA in its rules and regulations. It's a disgrace that Ryan Mallett has to sit out a year in order to avoid being at a school he never would have considered had its current coach been there. Rich Rodriguez didn't have to sit out a year before he could start coaching the Wolverines even though he walked out on a multi-million dollar contract at West Virginia. If the most important person in any college football program – the head coach – can change schools without penalty, how can you justify forcing players to sit?

Quick answer; you can't!

I have long been an advocate for allowing student-athletes ONE free transfer during their collegiate careers. One chance to decide you are in the wrong place and want to move on. One opportunity to either undo a bad decision or simply make a better one.

I have gotten many responses from coaches, administrators and fans about the "chaos" that would ensue if players could transfer freely. First, I doubt that would happen and second, so what? You don't think there's chaos in West Virginia right now? Think UMass basketball is just cruising along after being abandoned by a coach who accepted a five year extension less than a week earlier? Why is it okay for adult professionals to create chaos but not student-athletes who are the least compensated individuals in any big time athletic program?

I've been told that free transfers will lead to tampering by one school to get kids to transfer from another. Again, the adult professionals might behave unethically, so let's punish the student athlete? That's absurd! There are already rules in place to deal with tampering issues, and a school can report a rival institution is they suspect their players is being tampered with. I would have no problem with a rule that would block any transfer if there is a tampering allegation made.

Ryan Mallett should be allowed to play for Arkansas next year. The only person who benefits from forcing him to sit out is incumbent QB Casey Dick. It's really bizarre that Mallett can't do his thing this fall. But the new coach at his old school can. And the new coach at his new school who also walked away from a multi-million dollar contract can as well.

Questions or comments? Contact's Larry Vettel

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