The Wisconsin basketball program is on the map for sports news right now because of their recent restrictions placed on a student transferring out of the program. According to NCAA rules, if a player wishes to transfer schools, a coach is allowed to make a list of schools that the player cannot attend. Wisconsin athletic officials first tried to block Jarrod Uthoff from transferring to quite a few schools–including the entire Big Ten and ACC–but later lifted all transfer restrictions save Big Ten schools. My question today is: Should this be happening in college athletics?
On one hand a student athlete should have the right to transfer out of a school if they feel the need to. On the other hand a commitment is just that: a commitment to a University through good and bad times. It is a tough place to be in because often times students are transferring for the wrong reasons, like more playing time or simply feeling that they do not fit well into the system. It is the University that gave the player the chance for a free education and opportunity in the first place. Shouldn’t the University have the right, to some extent, to restrict the player’s movement?
It’s a tough one.
In a perfect world, a student athlete who receives a scholarship should stick with the school that gave it because that school invested the money and time in them. They should give the school every opportunity to let the commitment work out for both the student and the school. I know that often there are circumstances that will lead to a “valid” transfer, such as a coach leaving or to be closer to family. It is a double edged sword which is why it is good that the NCAA has restrictions for transfers.
Back to the Wisconsin case: if the student is allowed to transfer, should the University be able to block who the student plays for?
There are a lot of restrictions that people are looking at right now including a lot of fine print. The Big Ten altered some transfer rules that will reduce the eligibility of a player by one year. I believe that Uthofff should have read these rules and he should understand that he is breaking the contact that he signed with Wisconsin. If the University feels like they should block the player from transferring to a rival, then that is their choice. If the contract stated that the University has to allow the player to transfer anywhere then I would have to side with Uthoff. It all comes down to the contract the player signed for an opportunity to play college sports.
The bottom line is that transferring from a University will result in penalties for student athletes. If there are no penalties–nothing for the player to lose–then the NCAA will look like the NBA: a circus act of transferring where players constantly break contracts to form dream teams. It is a big choice when a high school athlete chooses a school to play for. The University is making a big choice also and both sides are hoping that it will works out. If it doesn’t work out then both the school and the player better be prepared for the consequences.