The ACC and Big Ten are on board with giving athletes a 1-time transfer without sitting out, and so should the SEC
The clock is now ticking on the SEC to take some long overdue action.
On Monday, the ACC released a statement in support of the Big Ten’s proposal to allow undrgraduate student-athletes a 1-time transfer opportunity without sitting out a year:
“During the league’s annual winter meetings (February 12-14), the ACC discussed the transfer environment and unanimously concluded that as a matter of principle we support a one-time transfer opportunity for all student-athletes regardless of sport,” the conference said in a statement. “As a conference, we look forward to continuing the discussion nationally.”
Do some quick math and yep, that means 2 of the Power 5 conferences are on board with this nuanced approach to the transfer issue in college sports right now. The Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC have yet to address the issue.
Shoot, the NCAA even came out with a statement Tuesday saying this will be voted on in the spring:
Division I student-athletes in all sports could have the opportunity to compete immediately after transferring one time if a proposed change to waiver guidelines is adopted by the Division I Council this spring. https://t.co/Es7MfhHLj4
— Inside the NCAA (@InsidetheNCAA) February 18, 2020
It’s time that the SEC addresses the issue, too. Check that. It’s time that the SEC announces its support of the Big Ten’s proposal.
The SEC communications staff did not respond to an email request Tuesday for the conference’s stance on the matter. Who knows how long it’ll take. What we do know is that regardless of what coaches claim about this creating “the wild west,” a change is needed.
And if you don’t think a change is needed, well, perhaps you missed what happened to players at places like Michigan State and Colorado.
They had their head football coach leave … in February. Under the NCAA’s current legislation, they wouldn’t automatically receive immediate eligibility for a hardship waiver. Could they? Possibly, but that’s unknown considering how unpredictable the process is (unless someone lawyers up and hires Thomas Mars). Nobody knows when or why the NCAA operates the way it does.
Why not take that out of the NCAA’s hands? Why not eliminate this drawn-out process to determine whether a player should be immediately eligible? The NCAA acknowledged the stress of the waiver process and how it’s no longer sustainable.
Obviously the remaining hurdle is the same one that’s always been standing in the way of a proposal like this — the coaches. The same coaches like Tucker, who infamously claimed that “there was no transfer portal in the real world,” don’t want to be blindsided by players leaving and playing somewhere else at the drop of a hat (what irony that is). Coaches fear it’ll decimate their depth and they’ll spend the entire year recruiting their own team.
I’d argue with the transfer portal that we’re basically already at that point. Players can enter the transfer portal at any time and see what their market is. Some coaches enforce a policy of not allowing players to return to school once they enter the transfer portal, and others do not. They still have the power to make that decision even if this proposal becomes NCAA rule.
The power structure is what got us to this point. That is, the point of recognizing that college football is vastly different than it was 10 years ago.
Sure, coaches left for other jobs and coaches were fired. But the money in play now allows athletic departments to not only have a quicker trigger — even Mississippi State can pay an 8-figure buyout and fire a 14-12 coach after 2 years — but it also allows schools like Michigan State to throw life-changing money at a coach who legitimately had no intentions of leaving his job. Coaching departures — however they happen — are often what’s at the root of a player’s wish to transfer. Not always, but often.
The NCAA can spew the rhetoric about “that’s why you sign with a program and not a coach” all they want. But the reality is if you were a triple-option quarterback who signed to play in that offense, you wouldn’t have a chance with a new coach running the Air Raid. Why should that player have a year of their athletic prime wasted on the bench because a coach left?
Giving athletes the 1-time ability to transfer without having to sit a year would not be giving them all the power. It would be creating some sort of balance as coach salaries skyrocket with the revenue distribution increase. Coaches still dictate playing time, and that’s not guaranteed to anyone. Players can threaten to transfer all they want, but coaches can respond to that by saying that they can dip into the transfer portal to get someone to take their place tomorrow.
That, hopefully, will ultimately reduce to amount of players who enter the transfer portal. While the transfer process needed revamping, the goal shouldn’t necessarily be to empower more players to transfer. Rather, it should be to empower more players who transfer. There’s a difference.
The NCAA doesn’t want to convey that it’s incentivizing the act of transferring because the organization would like to pretend that Power 5 college football players are attending their respective universities because of the education and student-athlete experience provided … when really it’s usually about doing whatever they can to get to the NFL.
But this proposal, if passed, would finally acknowledge that the sport has changed.
It wouldn’t surprise me if the Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC are all deliberate about this considering they’ll be the third Power 5 conference to sign off on such a rule. If there’s a consensus opinion among the Power 5 conferences, one has to think that’ll carry a lot of weight with the NCAA.
I don’t know when the SEC will announce its stance on this matter. Here’s hoping the conference doesn’t decide to be a stick in the mud.
It’s about time to get with the times.