Transfer epidemic product of flawed system

The absurd number of college basketball transfers is an NCAA problem, stemming from a flawed system.

Amidst the fatal flaws of the NCAA's current structure, a persistent problem is proving to grow greater by the day.

A lengthy list shows the evidence of an issue the NCAA must work to correct. Transferring is becoming all too common in the failed "student-athlete" system. ESPN's Jeff Goodman documents the names of college basketball departures, which is well over 400 now.

Purdue coach Matt Painter called this an "epidemic" in a recent teleconference. He sure is right.

The "Pleasantville" NCAA would see its student-athletes—a term used without sarcasm for this example—pick the institution of their choice, work just as hard in the classroom as they do on the athletic field, and graduate in four years. That's not how it works.

For this case, college basketball is the ultimate model. The NCAA's prestigious tournament just brought in millions and millions. Meanwhile, the "student-athletes" are bouncing from one unstable situation to the next.

The athletics-first world the money-driven NCAA has created forces its athletes to find the best fit on the field, rather than the classroom. It starts in recruiting, where high school kids are finding ample amounts of playing time, the right coach, and, yes, even a uniform Nike sponsorship.

Coaches enter a prospect's living room and kiss their hindpart, all to get that blue-chipper onto campus. They promise playing time, championships, and the oh-so laughable "I'm not leaving" guarantee. The Chicago Cubs are reliable than these empty lines.

The sad reality is most college coaches aren't recruiting to offer a free education and great opportunity on the basketball court. It's about the betterment of themselves—to move up the coaching ladder, make more money—and not the "student athletes." It's easy to make empty promises in recruiting, but that letter of intent doesn't care if a kid was lied to.

We, as recruiting reporters, are guilty for this flaw, too. Recruits are hyped well before they walk into a high school for the first time. When they commit, not a bad word is shared. Rightfully so; these are kids. Yet, not everyone will develop into an All-American, or even a starter.

A coach commits to a kid, and a kid commits to a program. It's a perfect match, and then it's not. Not every marriage will work.

Perhaps it's a case where playing time isn't as promised, that coach from the living room finds greener pastures or the school isn't close enough to home. Here's where the NCAA's flaw is revealed.

The pressure on coaches to succeed is greater than ever, and the media power—from outlets like this, among many others—creates a sense of supremacy for many kids entering a program.

That coach could find somebody better to play a position, or he may up and leave in the middle of the night. Those promises could be uprooted in an instant. While the NCAA claims it's looking for the "student-athletes," these two conveniently become separate terms in transfer situations. Kids become powerless as coaches can limit their options and play gate-keeper. When they are allowed to find a school, they must wait a year to take the court.

Why is this rule in place? To limit the number of transfers each offseason. It's not working too well.

The NCAA's flawed system is creating tremendous problems for its "student-athletes" and correction must come soon. It will take collaboration of the suits to find a fix.

Those victimized by this poor structure join a long list of misfortune.

Chris Emma has covered recruiting, college athletics and professional baseball for FOX Sports Next since 2009. Emma covered the Nebraska Cornhuskers and Northwestern Wildcats, and currently covers the Purdue Boilermakers. A Chicago native, he resides in West Lafayette.
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