Let Transfers Play Right Away

Mike Rosario is joining the Florida basketball team this fall, but he'll sit around and watch for a year. Ray Shipman is still searching for a new home, but if it's at a Division I school, he'll sit around and watch too. Neither school those players are leaving care if they play next season, but the NCAA continues to force them to sit out anyway.

I know I'm like a dog with a bone on this issue, but I make no apologies for that. It's not a partisan issue because of how good the Gators could be with Rosario on the floor next season. It's about fairness and hypocrisy.

The primary reasons athletes should get one free transfer during their college careers is that it's the right thing. Somehow the NCAA, the most hypocritical cartel in the country determined that it is necessary to protect competitive integrity by forcing student-athletes to sit out a season if they have the audacity to change schools during their careers. Well, not all student-athletes. Only athletes in football, men's and women's basketball and women's field hockey must make that concession. No other student-athletes are forced to sit out, so I guess only those sports matter.

Of course while the NCAA protects those sports from the scourge of transferring players it looks the other way as coaches jump around like a hooker with overdue rent. In fact, no other person involved in intercollegiate athletics is barred from changing schools and beginning to work immediately, but the student-athlete, the one receiving the least compensation and having the shortest career span is forced into a full year on the sidelines.

What's amazing to me is that extremely fair minded people are comfortable with this system. Here's what Gator C\coach Billy Donovan said about it Monday.

"Well, I think if you don't have a rule like that, there's going to be a mass exodus everywhere. The one thing I think they want to stay away from is coaches recruiting off another program and a player leaving with no penalty. That would be a problem too, probably. When freshmen go to college, there's always that transition period. Every freshman wonders if they made the right decision. That's what they all go through and once they work through that, they get better, improve and have a good career."

Let me address Donovan's key points.

There's going to be a mass exodus everywhere ---- There's no basis for believing that. There aren't massive transfers across the board in sports where sitting out is not required. While there would certainly be more transferring that's not necessarily a bad thing. Remember each player has to have somewhere do go and any school that accepts a high level of transfers will be undermining its recruiting.

Coaches recruiting off another program ---- Sorry, but the fact that unethical coaches may break existing tampering rules is not justification for unfair restrictions on the student-athletes involved. Schools can refuse to release a player to a school it suspects of tampering. Schools can and should file tampering charges against others schools if they interfere with their kids.

Every freshman wonders if he made the right decision ---- His point that many consider transferring and decide to stick it out and benefit in the long run is a good one. But that decision has to be made by the player and his/her family, not by NCAA administrators. In fact, those who have more freedom of movement and elect to stick it out are probably going reap even greater benefits from that decision and experience.

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I can be reasonable about this and do see the logistical nightmare that could be created by total free agency so what do you think about the following rules as a way to control it?

1. No free transfers during the school year. If you leave between the semesters you must sit out a year.

2. No school can accept more than 10 transfer student-athletes in a school year (five male, five female). No more than three can be in any one sport and no more than four in any one sport in a two-year period.

3. One transfer (free or otherwise) in your college career. Under no circumstances can any student-athlete compete for three NCAA institutions.

4. The terms of transfer will be determined by the institution the student-athlete is departing. The school shall have the right to determine what kind of transfer they are approving. The student-athlete shall have the right to appeal those conditions to an NCAA eligibility committee/panel.

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Those rules give the student-athlete the opportunity for more freedom while the original institution maintains control of the process. Here are the types of transfers I would like to see allowed.

Free, unrestricted permission to transfer ---- The student-athlete is free to transfer to any institution that will accept him/her and compete in the upcoming school year.

Free, restricted permission to transfer --- The student-athlete is free to transfer to any institution except those listed on the waiver. Generally those schools would be in-conference, in-state or on upcoming schedules.

Delayed free transfer ---- The student-athlete would be free to transfer to any other NCAA institution but must sit out for one school year.

Delayed restricted transfer ---- The student-athlete must sit out a year and cannot transfer to the schools listed on the waiver.

Currently only the final two forms of transferring are allowed. What would be the harm with at least experimenting for two years to see how creating some fairness and freedom just might better serve student athletes who feel the need to move on from their current situation?

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