New NCAA Transfer Rules
By Madeline Sperling
New Transfer of Power?
As of Oct. 15, D1 student-athletes no longer have to ask for permission from their current school to transfer and schools no longer have the authority to block transfers as well. Under this new “notification-of-transfer” model, student-athletes will have their names entered into a national database, and coaches from other programs can then reach out to gauge interest. A lot more power now rests with the student-athlete, not the program which previously had the option of placing stringent and unfair limits on which schools the transfer could consider.
This is one of two new transfers rules that have been both praised and criticized for its reallocation of power from the coaches to the players. The NCAA has long been decried for its unbending and often invasive regulations that dictate a student-athlete’s amateur status. When describinljog the previous D1 NCAA tranfer policy, person intimately involved in the legislative process said, "it's like if your ex-wife determined who is your next wife."
With these new eligibility rule changes, it would seem that the NCAA would be moving in the right direction in terms of allowing student-athletes more autonomy in their college career.
Scott Drew: immediate eligibility would turn college sports into the “wild, wild west”
The notion that immediate eligibility would turn college sports into the “wild, wild west” as Baylor coach Scott Drew put it, fails to recognize the fact that conferences can still place limitations “that are more restrictive than the national rule” (according to the Division I Council). What's more it implies that the only motivation a student-athlete would have for transfer is egotistical self-service (nice to know that these coaches hold student-athletes in such high esteem).
NCAA Redshirt Rules
The Four Game Redshirt Rule
But this compromised power of college coaches comes with a silver lining in the second eligibility rule change: players can now participate in up to four games in a season and still retain that year of eligibility. According to Miami (FL) athletics director Blake James, chair of the Division I Council, this new change aims to promote “fairness for college athletes.” While I am not saying Mr. James is being misleading, this rule also provides a whole new strategic advantage to the top powerhouse Division I programs. Teams like Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma, Clemson, and Ohio State who consistently end up with the top recruiting classes year after year can now utilize the 5 and 4-star true freshman in pivotal regular season matchups and even post-season bowl games.
So, How Will All of This Affect College Football?
Clearly, both of these rule changes present plenty of new opportunities for both student-athletes and coaches, there still remains the question of how they will influence NCAA on a macro-level. I wrote an article not too long ago about how a seemingly small rule change that aimed to reduce injuries and dirty tackling techniques resulted in the now-standardized 250-300 lbs as a prerequisite for offensive and defensive linemen.
So perhaps the critics of these new transfer rules are right in that transferring the power from the college football programs to the student-athletes is just another way for college football to more closely identify itself with the NFL. No doubt that in the next few years, controversies surrounding prominent D1 transfers’ decisions will dominate the mainstream sports media alongside discussions about NFL trade deals. Not to mention, the payday opportunity it creates for NFL agents looking to sign NCAA superstars long before they even enter the draft.
However, seeing these reforms as something that unilaterally affects prime time NFL-bound college football players is ignoring the fact they also give much needed liberty to the young men and women competing in the 21 other sports that aren’t football or men’s basketball. D1 student-athletes are subject to a mess of pervasive rules and many deal with abusive and manipulative coaches who, prior to Oct. 15 retained the right to prohibit student-athletes from transferring to any and as many of the 130 D1 programs as they wished.
The End of a Dark Era in College Football Coaching
One might even argue that if Jordan McNair had a proper and more convenient opportunity to transfer he might still be alive today. I know this might seem brash, but following McNair sudden death during a workout an investigation into the “motivational” practices employed by Coach DJ Durkin and his staff reported multiple instances of fear and humiliation wielded as weapons; extreme workouts that resulted in players vomiting and passing out; and a team divided into a group favored by coaches and another that suffered their wrath. Situations like this have also brought to light how confronting coaches about their abusive tactics is heavily repressed and even when years of complaints and allegations come to light, power wielded by coaches like DJ Durkin and Kevin Wilson is rarely put in check by neither the athletic department, the school administration nor the NCAA.
A New Beginning
By no means, I am saying that these transfer reforms are necessary because college coaches and trainers are all manipulative despots, in fact myself and my peers at College Football Today have praised top D1 coaches, such as Dabo Swinney,Bryan Kelly, Jim Harbaugh, Kirk Ferentz, Scott Frost, Craig Bohl and James Franklin for their ability to develop, support and inspire their student-athletes in football and in life after football.
And it is because there are so many amazing coaches out there that enrich the lives of student-athletes that athletes suffering from overwork and ridicule by their coaches should have the agency to transfer without interference from an abusive coach preventing them from reaching their full inspired potential under someone like Nick Saban. Contrary to Coach Painter's suggestion that it, "would lead to constant poaching and the business of instant gratification instead of growth and development,” this change in the system could serve to unofficially penalize abusive and damaging coaching methods and encourage college coaches to create cultures of respect and personal growth.
And yes, maybe these new transfer rules will allow for big-name athletes to enjoy bidding wars for their talents like an NFL free agent, but the truth is much of NCAA football is already identical to the NFL. In its corporate sponsorships, hundred-million dollar stadiums, lucrative fan merchandise industries and celebrification of its players, college football economically mirrors the NFL. But there is one tiny difference: the players at the center of the profit-driven machine are unpaid student-athletes that were once compared to slaves in an iconic episode of South Park. So don't you think arguing that student-athletes have too much power over coaches with multi-million dollar salaries is a little tone deaf, no?
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