Proposed NCAA transfer rules change in college basketball would be progress for student-athletes

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Cameron Indoor Stadium

The NCAA recently made headlines because it is reviewing its transfer policies related to college basketball players.

The possiblity exists that the NCAA may grant players to transfer one time without penalty as long as they have met certain academic requirements.

This would represent a tremendous shift for the NCAA, an organization that has done everything that it can to limit the power of student-athletes.

Of course, coaches are outraged. They envision a scenario where the games themselves become opportunities for opposing coaches to attempt to pilfer talented players. They say that the kids will suffer and that smaller programs will see the balance of power tip further against them. They are worried about their own job security.

Mount St. Mary’s coach Jamion Christian was quoted on Scout.com, stating “College should always be about graduating. But the NCAA isn’t making this about graduating, they’re making it about year to year eligibility.”

My response? So what?

I am no fan of the NCAA. It has created a system based on the exploitation of young people for the enrichment of its executives, member institutions, and coaches, while rarely improving the conditions of the so-called “student-athlete” (a term the NCAA created to support the false narrative of collegiate amateurism). However, on this issue, we have some agreement.

Major college sports stopped being about graduation a long time ago. As Nino Brown said in the film “New Jack City,” “This is big business. This is the American Way.”

There’s nothing supposedly more American than self-determination. We are constantly told that the individual has the ability to choose their own path and reap the rewards of their success.

But that doesn’t apply in the realm of collegiate athletics. At least not for the players.

Over the past several years the challenges to the notion of what it means to be a student-athlete have intensified. The primary question for me is, if student-athletes are truly students first, then they should be treated like every other student.

If a biology major finds a university that has a stronger program at another school, no one would suggest that if the student transfers that they miss a year of classes. Why should a student-athlete not be granted that same opportunity?

We already know that there’s no true protection for the athlete. A scholarship can be pulled at any time, for no other reason than the coach’s needs. That same coach who recruited the player can accept a new position before a kid even reaches campus and yet the player is still tied to the school.

So let’s see all of this for what it really is; an attempt by coaches to assert as much control over thier careers as well as those of the student-athlete. That isn’t fair. More importantly, it isn’t right.

Give the players the ability to find the situation that they feel is best for them. Let them decide where they want to be.

It won’t fix all the problems that plague college sports and the NCAA, but it’s a start.

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David Grubb

David Grubb

Featured Columnist

David Grubb has more than a decade of experience in the sports industry. He began his career with KLAX-TV in Alexandria, La. and followed that up with a stint as an reporter and anchor with WGGB-TV in Springfield, Mass. After spending a few years away from the industry, David worked as sports information director for Southern University at New Orleans…

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