Skip to content

“Free agency” in college basketball?

May 26, 2013, 2:08 PM EDT

Big 12 Media Day Basketball AP

On the heels of Antonio Barton’s transferring from Memphis to Tennessee earlier today, there are many coaches around the country that are shaking their heads. It isn’t that they find Barton, or any other player’s decision to use their final year of eligibility elsewhere, at fault, but it is the rule allowing players to transfer this late in their college career that is the crux of the problem.

Even though many of college basketball’s premier programs are the ones who benefit from this rule, Bill Self told the Lawrence Journal-World that he disagrees in principle:

“You applaud anyone that can get their degree early. I am not knocking that at all. You look at it from the big picture. If you are a mid-major and you sit (red-shirt) a guy because it’s best for his life and he graduates after four years, you have to re-recruit him just to get him to come back to your school if he’s any good at all. I think it’s a bad rule…When you get to the point you are potentially recruiting kids off other kids’ campuses, I think it’s a big-time negative situation.”

In early May, Jon Rothstein captured the situation perfectly:

Herb Sendek, Arizona State’s head coach who saw his star player Evan Gordon transfer to Indiana earlier this month where he will be eligible to play immediately, echoed Rothstein’s sentiment: “The rule in most cases is not being used as intended and is clearly adding to the widespread free agency in college basketball,” Sendek told ESPN.

Said Wisconsin’s Bo Ryan:

“I positively believe a fifth-year guy should not be able to play right away. All they’re doing is looking at curriculum, finding a program that a school doesn’t have. Are they really trying to get a master’s degree? Or is it, ‘Maybe my team isn’t as good and we lost a lot and I want to be in the NCAA Tournament next year and …’ There’s a market out there for this. You take guys through summer school and give them every academic advantage and then they graduate and then they can just go to another school.

In some cases programs greatly benefit with this rule, like we just saw earlier today with Antonio Barton transferring to Tennessee, but that doesn’t make the rule right. In other cases, it significantly hurts mid-major programs who see top players transfer to bigger programs after discovering their talents are on par with that level of basketball.

Look no further than Trey Zeigler, who spent the first two years of his college career at Central Michigan, then played his junior season at Pittsburgh after his father was fired as head coach at CMU allowing him to play immediately for Jamie Dixon, and now he’ll spend his final year at TCU. Although he will most likely be sitting out for the 2013-14 season, his playing for three different schools over the course of his career speaks to Self’s point of “recruiting kids off other kids’ campuses.”

Every transfer situation is a unique one, but when reviewing Jeff Goodman’s 2013 transfer list that features more than 400 players transferring, it suggests there needs to be a strong review of this specific transfer rule, as well as transferring from one school to another in general.

Recruiting no longer ends in high school and on the AAU circuit, it has now extended to poaching college players from other Division 1 schools.

You can find Kevin on twitter @KLDoyle11

  1. sextonbrian13 - May 26, 2013 at 6:16 PM

    Par for the course that coaches would be crying about graduate transfers bettering their playing situations when these same coaches break contracts to “transfer” to other schools for more money. Here’s a simple solution…if coaches can transfer without penalty, so should players.

  2. motobus - May 26, 2013 at 6:22 PM

    These coaches really come off as pathetic.

  3. indianaviking - May 26, 2013 at 6:49 PM

    Boo hoo. If a kid graduated and has eligibility left he/she should be rewarded and be able to do as he/she pleases. The kids get hosed enough, let them have this one.

  4. therealpittbull - May 27, 2013 at 8:31 AM

    Are these guys serious? Have neither of them voided the last YEARS of a contract, to go to a bigger institution, with a better chance of going to the tourney? Have any of th em not accepted a transfer for “academic” choice reasons? Shut up!!!! Pure hipocratic nonsense. Just slave owners getting richer, and upset that there are freedom laws and underground railroads discovered.

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Featured video

Derrick Gordon says 'Why not me?'