The NCAA changed its rules Thursday so athletes can transfer once without having to sit out a season. This could have a major impact on college athletics.
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Transfer Rules Give Power Programs A Do-Over
The NCAA decided that student-athletes deserved a little more freedom. Is it a change of heart or an attempt to appease some who are after the organization for its handling of collegiate sports? It’s likely a combination of both, and it will have a large impact on the sports we love.
First, let me say that I see both sides of the arguments for and against this rule. On the one hand, the NCAA likes to point out that these are student-athletes and not athlete-students, meaning they are students first. Well, every other student can transfer at any time without having to sit out of classes for a year. Why should these students be treated differently?
But regardless of what anyone says, the student-athletes are being paid. They get a free education, special privileges, and travel where they sometimes do more than just play sports. The education alone is worth thousands of dollars. With the money they are being paid, the schools deserve some control.
And let’s not forget that these student-athletes willingly agreed to the system currently in place. While some will say that they have no other choice, that’s never true. There are plenty of things they could do instead of playing college sports.
So those are the talk radio easy phone call arguments. But the change the NCAA made Thursday could have a big impact on college sports in ways that many are not even thinking about.
Schools now get multiple opportunities to get the best players on their team. Generally, this is going to favor the top programs. Kansas gets a lot of top prospects in basketball. When they get one that doesn’t live up to expectations, Self can push that player out of the program and replace him with a player at a mid-major program who surprised everyone. This is done now, but it becomes much easier to turn over a roster with this rule.
College sports will become more like youth sports. Kids who play really well for a smaller program will look to “take their talents” to Kansas basketball or Alabama football. That makes it really difficult for the smaller programs to build into something bigger. Is that what we want with college sports? Do we want the top programs to dominate even more than they do now?
This happens all the time in youth sports. A kid joins a team. He has a great season. He thinks he is too good for the team he is on, so he looks to join one of the area’s top teams. Any time a lower-level team gets a good player or develops a kid into a better player, that kid is off to a team that wins more games. This is exaggerated at the youth level because players can transfer teams freely every year.
So now, college coaches are recruiting their own players every year as well. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. They have to treat their players well, or the players will find another home.
This rule is somewhat like when Major League Baseball players earned free agency. Many thought it was going to destroy the sport if players could leave and go to other teams. It changed the sport dramatically, but it didn’t destroy the sport. In some ways, free agency made the sport better. Let’s see if this new NCAA rule pushes college athletics in the same direction.
Notes: Former Missouri football player Aldon Smith agreed with the Seattle Seahawks on a one-year contract… MLB named Caesars Entertainment, Draft Kings, and Fan Duel as its first sportsbook sponsors…
Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin is reloading with an eye toward space-and-pace (CJ Moore)
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