Enough with whin­ing about trans­fers

The Washington Times Daily - - SPORTS - DERON SNY­DER

When coaches com­plain that some­thing is “not good for col­lege bas­ket­ball,” chances are great that the source of ir­ri­ta­tion is good for col­lege bas­ket­ball play­ers.

Funny how that works, no? Imag­ine that your son, nephew, brother or cousin is a su­per-tal­ented fresh­man with “NBA lot­tery” stamped on his game. He’s smart, ma­ture and well-bal­anced for an 18-year-old. You wouldn’t worry that a one-and-done sea­son makes life harder for the coach and damp­ens the team’s out­look next year.

You would cel­e­brate the fact that Ju­nior po­si­tioned him­self to sign an eight-fig­ure con­tract that pays him more in two years than you’d make in three life­times. That’s great news for him and the fam­ily.

Here’s a sce­nario that doesn’t in­volve the NBA draft: Imag­ine that Ju­nior wants a change of scenery af­ter a sea­son or three on cam­pus. Maybe he’s far away and wants to be closer to home. Maybe he clashed with the coach or team­mates. Maybe he wants to play at a bet­ter pro­gram.

So he trans­fers and sits out a sea­son. Or he com­pletes his de­gree be­fore ex­haust­ing his ath­letic el­i­gi­bil­ity, which al­lows him to trans­fer and play im­me­di­ately as a grad stu­dent. Good for him.

But too many coaches whine that it’s bad for them, par­tic­u­larly when they’re at low- to mid-ma­jor schools and their stars de­part for Power Six con­fer­ences.

Sports Il­lus­trated re­ports that since 2012, the num­ber of play­ers who have “trans­ferred up” — not in­clud­ing moves from one power league to an­other — has more than tripled. SI found that 28 play­ers (19 tra­di­tional trans­fers and nine grad­u­ate stu­dents) left for dis­tinctly higher lev­els in 2012. Last off-sea­son, the num­ber rose to 91, in­clud­ing a five-fold in­crease in grad trans­fers (49).

“I wouldn’t want to be a mid-ma­jor coach these days; I feel for those

guys,” Notre Dame coach and for­mer Delaware coach Mike Brey told SI. “And the trans­fers aren’t go­ing away. I wouldn’t want to try and build one at that level. The re­cruit you steal, you’re just rent­ing.”

Robert Mor­ris coach Andy Toole lost grad trans­fer Rod­ney Pryor to Ge­orge­town prior to last sea­son and tra­di­tional trans­fer Mar­c­quise Reed to Clem­son two years ago. UNC-Asheville lost star play­ers who trans­ferred to Mar­quette, Louisville and Ari­zona the past two years.”It’s al­most like there’s the BCS world and ev­ery­one else is there for the pick­ings,” Toole told SI.

Ken­tucky coach John Cali­pari said schol­ar­ships for grad trans­fers would be is­sued more ju­di­ciously if they cov­ered up to two years, even though play­ers re­ceive just one sea­son of el­i­gi­bil­ity. “If the kid gets his grad de­gree in one year, fine,” Cali­pari told ESPN. “If he doesn’t you’ve got to use the schol­ar­ship for two years.”

Other coaches ar­gue that grad trans­fers should be re­quired to sit out a sea­son just like tra­di­tional trans­fers. The coaches see their bud­dies suf­fer­ing losses and be­ing fired be­cause play­ers are on the move. “So many of these mid-ma­jors are get­ting crushed,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski told ESPN. “The fifth-year trans­fer is the one. I hate what it does for our pro­fes­sion.”

Yes, be­cause it’s all about the adults and their mil­lion-dol­lar salaries, not the kids toil­ing for room, board, books and tu­ition.

“Small col­leges are be­com­ing the mi­nor leagues for the big schools,” long­time sneaker ex­ec­u­tive Sonny Vac­caro told SI.

He was talk­ing about play­ers. No need to be spe­cific, though, be­cause they’re not at all pe­cu­liar.

Coaches “up-trans­fer” all the time. Last month alone, Kevin Keatts went from UNC-Wilm­ing­ton to North Carolina State; Archie Miller went from Day­ton to In­di­ana; and Will Wade went from VCU to LSU. Wade is the fourth con­sec­u­tive Rams coach who de­parted for a power con­fer­ence job, fol­low­ing Shaka Smart (Texas), Anthony Grant (Alabama) and Jeff Capel (Ok­la­homa).

That’s not to men­tion as­sis­tant coaches, some of whom go from lowto mid-ma­jor jobs to an­nual salaries in the mid- to high-six fig­ures.

Ath­letic di­rec­tors move on for bet­ter op­por­tu­ni­ties. Col­lege pres­i­dents reach higher on the ca­reer lad­der. Pro­fes­sors pack up to seek su­pe­rior sit­u­a­tions. Ditto for bi­ol­ogy ma­jors and band mem­bers.

But none of that is harm­ful, just when play­ers leave. Can coaches be more self­ish?


ESPN said an anony­mous mid­ma­jor coach who lost a top player to a power con­fer­ence school promised to start “slow­ing down the grad­u­a­tion process” to avoid sim­i­lar de­fec­tions. Tac­tics could in­clude de­creas­ing the play­ers’ sum­mer school cour­ses or elim­i­nat­ing them al­to­gether. Play­ers also could be urged to take the min­i­mum class hours (12 per se­mes­ter) nec­es­sary to qual­ify as full-time stu­dents.

“What kid is go­ing to ar­gue and want to take more classes,” an­other anony­mous mid-ma­jor coach told ESPN. “There aren’t many.”

Coaches have a lot of nerve grum­bling about the only in­stance in which play­ers have some con­trol. Just like ev­ery­one else in the game, one-and­dones and trans­fers are look­ing out for their own best in­ter­ests.

They clearly can’t de­pend on any­one else.

That’s what’s bad about the sit­u­a­tion.


A re­port finds the num­ber of col­lege play­ers who have “trans­ferred up” from a small con­fer­ence to a power league has more than tripled since 2012. Grad­u­ate trans­fer Rod­ney Pryor played for Ge­orge­town this sea­son af­ter four years at Robert Mor­ris.

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