Opinion: Transfer Rules Starting To Catch Up With The Modern World
Student-athletes who transfer from one college to another are certainly not new.
Two of West Virginia University’s all-time greats, Joe Stydahar and Hot Rod Hundley, initially enrolled at other colleges before coming back to their home state school, WVU. A native of Shinnston, Stydahar first went to Pitt but enrolled at West Virginia before his freshman season began in 1933. After graduating from Charleston High in 1953, Hundley moved to N.C. State that summer, but when the Wolfpack were put on probation for illegal recruiting tactics that landed it not only Hundley but others, Hot Rod switched to WVU.
Add Bob Huggins, Jeff Hostetler, A.B. Brown, Mike Gansey, Jake Kelchner, Clint Trickett, Juwan Staten, Will Grier and many, many other WVU stars who began at other colleges, and the Mountaineers have a long, rich history with transfers.
The topic of transfers has gotten a lot of attention lately, specifically in regard to college football. This is the first year for the NCAA Portal, where those who are potential transfers put their name into an online database allowing coaches from other colleges the opportunity to contact them to see if they are interested in moving to that particular school.
The availability of transfers used to be shrouded in secrecy, but the Portal has brought it more to the public’s attention. And some in the media and the public are surprised by the activity.
At one point a few weeks ago, the Portal contained over 1,100 potential transfers. Now just because a student-athlete puts his name in the Portal doesn’t obligate him to transfer. Many withdraw from the database and remain at their old school. A recent Internet search found approximately 100 FBS players who have actually transferred so far, including quarterback Austin Kendall, who left Oklahoma and has since enrolled at WVU, and center Matt Jones, who left West Virginia as a grad transfer headed to Youngstown State.
Recent NCAA rules have opened up the transfer opportunities for student-athletes. Not only is the Portal available for football players, allowing other schools to have a list of everyone potentially available, but the original school now longer is supposed to be able to restrict the desired transfer destination of a student-athlete.
Some conferences, like the Big 12, still have rules requiring permission from the previous university if a player desires to attend another school in the same league. That Big 12 rule against such intra-conference transfers was the sticking point for Kendall, as Oklahoma didn’t originally want him going to another Big 12 school. But public pressure quickly caused the Sooners to relent, just as it did Kansas State when it tried to block former Wildcat quarterback Alex Delton from immediately becoming eligible at fellow Big 12 school TCU.
Kendall and Delton are each grad transfers, so they are both able to play at their new Big 12 homes right away.
The Big 12 needs to revisit its rule about a student-athlete needing permission from his old school before he is eligible right away if he wants to transfer within the league. The SEC eliminated such a rule recently, and the Big 12 needs to do the same to avoid the public squabble and embarrassment that came with the Kendall transfer.
After all, the NCAA is trying to open transfer opportunities student-athletes, so colleges should do the same, especially for grad transfers who have already reached that significant academic benchmark.
Not everyone likes the ease with which transfers can now move from school to school, but as long as coaches can break contracts and switch from one job to the next, I see no reason that student-athletes shouldn’t have similar freedoms.