A few days ago, Jon Rothstein of FanRag Sports reported that the NCAA will meet soon in regards to immediate eligibility for transfers if they meet a certain GPA requirement. Rothstein says “nothing is official,” but there has since been more people backing up his report, including ESPN’s Matt Schick, who says he spoke with an NCAA official that was “95% certain” the rule will be passed for football and basketball.
Well, I am 100% certain that would be bad for college athletics. First, I should say that there are circumstances where it’s unfair that a student-athlete can’t transfer. A good example of that is Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts, who displayed exemplary character at the CFB Playoff National Championship Game when he was pulled for freshman quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. The Crimson Tide wouldn’t have been where they were in 2016 or 2017 if not for their quarterback, and he meant enough to the program that he should be allowed to transfer and start someplace else if he wants to.
Most of the time, though, a change in transfer rules will create competitive imbalance. College sports could quickly turn into the NBA by favoring the powerhouses. Think about it. He ended up winning the starting job the following season, but what if now-former Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett was able to transfer without penalty after Cardale Jones’ postseason run a few years ago? He could have easily decided that he wanted to go someplace with a great team in place that’s missing a quarterback—say, Michigan—and this new rule would allow him to play without sitting out a year?
I mean, what’s stopping the best players in the country from all creating a “superteam” in the hopes for a championship before heading to the NFL? It would be pretty weird to hear 20 out of 32 players in the first round every year be from Bama, because let’s face it, everyone looking for a quick title is going to flock to Nick Saban.
And things would be even worse in college basketball because there are smaller rosters and superteams are much easier to create. Doug Gottlieb sums it up well, as benches are already depleted because kids don’t want to stick around and work for a starting role, so a change in transfer rule would just be chaos.
More than anything, loyalty and pride in one’s school will go out the window. I would hate to see the day a former player visits the sidelines of a college game and wears a jersey that’s half Clemson and half Florida State because he played for both schools…
If the transfer rules are going to be changed, there should be a committee that decides on a case-by-case basis whether or not the student-athlete can transfer. Handling a situation with class like Jalen Hurts or seeing a coach leave schools is one thing… leaving because you want an easy path to playing time is another.