Transfer of Power

Today could not come soon enough for college coaches eager to launch themselves in the eyes of thousands of recruits in the April “live” period after a four-year hiatus.

Wisconsin's Bo Ryan has come under fire for placing restrictions on a player seeking to transfer.

For many coaches, this April has been spent dealing with their internal roster and transfers.

There are generally four factors that impact a player from possibly transferring: he looks at the level of school and judges if it is not consistent with their level of play; weighs a change of coach; has a clash or a personal issue; and, finally, may have to look at his academics or location.

For decades the NCAA had a hard rule that you must sit out a year after you transfer, however, we have recently seen players graduate and become immediately eligible or move closer to home to be with an ailing relative thus bypassing the one-year out policy.

What has taken college basketball by storm is the record rates of transfers.

This year over 300 Division I players have declared their intent to leave their current program, and some coaches are taking offense. Earlier in the year, St Joseph’s head coach Phil Martelli was under a lot of scrutiny for blocking the transfer of Todd O’Brien, a lightly used senior who averaged one point per game; he wished to transfer to UAB. Earlier this week, Wisconsin’s Bo Ryan started a media frenzy in his handling of redshirt forward Jarrod Uthoff by initially blocking 26 schools.

As former Division I head coach Tom Penders puts it, “The reason coaches are so opposed to players transferring out of their program is often because of the coach’s ego,” and many coaches “treat the kids as if they are their property”.

In regards to Ryan and Martelli, it was within their right to do what they did but will it be worth the long term effects of the public relations hit that will linger and undoubtedly pop up in the recruiting wars? Ryan and Wisconsin have decided to release the restrictions, however, not before revealing the real issue -- it was done because they as coaches and Division I institutions can. No other reason, they just can.

Coaches often evaluate their roster and tell players who contributed lightly that are not in the plans for a major contribution and that they are better off leaving and finding a school that is a better fit. The student athlete is powerless.

Talking on ESPN on Thursday, Ryan said that "It has become an attack on a particular institution when over the years, 300 and something institutions have done the same thing. All I'm asking is for fairness."

Who is advocating and concerned for the fairness to the athlete? Coaches are free to leave their institution for a job at another school, in some cases, even the same conference. Tubby Smith left Georgia for Kentucky in the mid-90s, however, the player must have his list of schools approved and in the majority of cases must sit-out a year. The coach can coach immediately and is open to a multitude of revenue streams from the coaching show, commercials, his own camp at the university.

The player on the other hand is under incredible scrutiny and the proposed $2,000 stipend to bridge the scholarship gap beyond tuition for books and other items was turned down in January.

Earlier this February, the NCAA passed a rule changing the one year - renewable scholarship to giving schools the option to offer a four-year scholarship. Eight of the Big Ten schools including Wisconsin were on board, offering the 2012 football recruiting class multi-year scholarships. It will be interesting to see what will happen with the basketball recruiting class and if schools will offer a four-year guaranteed scholarships. It was a minor victory for the student-athlete upon whom the business of college athletics is built on but one that undoubtedly will be short lived.


Leigh Klein is the owner of Five-Star Basketball Camps and formerly on staff at Texas and Rhode Island. Each year at Five-Star, he trains hundreds of future college basketball and NBA stars such as Michael Jordan, Grant Hill, LeBron James and Kevin Durant. He will be blogging for 247Sports on college basketball and recruiting.

Follow Leigh Klein on Twitter @leighalanklein and let him know what you think about the blog.

Skip To Comments

Already have an account? Sign In