Last week’s story about the Wisconsin men’s basketball player Jarrod Uthoff’s desire to transfer became a major media talking point. The fact that a college athlete was seeking to transfer was not a big deal, it happens all the time. What made this news story interesting was that Badger coach Bo Ryan had a long list of schools that Uthoff was not allowed to transfer to; that list included the entire Big Ten, the entire ACC, Iowa State, and Marquette. A coach restricting a player from transferring to a conference opponent is not new and makes a lot of sense, why let a player who knows your system go to a conference foe who you will face at least once a season. Thus Ryan’s decision to deny Uthoff the chance to go to another Big Ten school is fairly reasonable, as is the decision to block any transfer to Marquette, Wisconsin’s rival. Iowa State and the ACC being on the list make no sense however. Sure there is a chance that Uthoff could end up on a team that the Badgers would face in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge but that chance is small and is the Challenge really that big of deal? Iowa State makes even less sense other than the fact that Uthoff is from Iowa and this may just be Bo Ryan being vindictive.
After this story broke, the sports media exploded with every reporter and talking head known to man registering their opinion on the matter, with most of them criticizing Bo Ryan’s decision. Most of the media felt that while the NCAA rules permit a coach to restrict where a student athlete can transfer to, Ryan went to far in this case. I agree with this, Ryan should have just restricted Uthoff to not being able to transfer to a Big Ten school or to Marquette, going beyond that makes no sense as the chance of any of those schools ever facing Wisconsin while Uthoff is still there is very low.
While I agree that Ryan went to far, that agreement is only in light of the current NCAA rules regarding transfers. However I think that the NCAA needs to change those rules and actually end transfers by student athletes. The number of student athletes who transfer at some point in their career has reached ridiculous numbers. In 2008-2009 442 Division I men’s basketball players transferred to another D-I program, that represents 10.6 percent of all men’s basketball players. This is a disturbing number as it only represents a single season, if we look at a player’s entire college career the percent who will transfer will be much higher.
We do not know the reasons behind every single transfer but the general consensus is that most transfers happen because of a player being dissatisfied with the amount of playing time he is receiving, players want to play immediately and if they aren’t getting that chance, many will go elsewhere to find it. Most of these players who transfer are doing so because the top priority to them is getting more playing time, not getting an education which runs entirely contrary to the intended point behind student-athletes which says that education should come first.
Under my plan the NCAA would ban student-athletes from transferring and playing for any other school while on scholarship, the one exception to this rule would be if the player can prove that the school they are currently at is undermining his or her attempt to get a proper education. If for some reason a player wants to transfer and play at another school, they can still do so but they cannot receive a scholarship to do so, they must pay their own way. This will force student-athletes to consider other factors beyond playing time and who the coach is when it comes to deciding what school to attend. Since playing time is not guaranteed and coaches do leave, this no transfer policy will hopefully get student-athletes to consider more reliable factors when picking a school, such as the quality of education that they can receive there and the commitment from the athletic department to making sure their players receive a good education.
The other side of my plan requires a similar level of commitment on the part of the universities. To go along with this ban on transferring, all athletic scholarships will now be guaranteed for four years. The only way a student would lose their scholarship is if they violate team, university, or NCAA rules, or fail to make required progress toward their academic degree. Coaches and programs would no longer be able to pull scholarships from players based on their playing or to make room for a more highly rated recruit. Some people may disagree with this plan but it will help encourage more of a focus on the academic side of being student-athletes.
Gymnastics Brings Home Some Honors
Both the men’s and women’s gymnastic teams competed for an NCAA championship this past weekend and while neither team took home the big trophy, they did come back with some honors.
The women’s gymanstics team finished in fourth place in their NCAA semifinal, the top 3 in each semifinal advanced to the finals, earning them the program’s fifth top 10 finish in OSU history. Sophomore Sarah Miller was named second team All-American on the balance beam and floor exercise while Junior Colleen Dean was named a second team All-American on floor exercise. Miller and Dean are the 7th and 8th Buckeyes to be named All-Americans, this is the first time OSU has had more than one All-American in a single season. The fact that both Miller and Dean return next year bodes very well for the women’s team.
The men’s gymnastics team also failed to reach the team finals but the all seven of their qualifying members advanced to the individual finals. Senior Ty Echard, sophomores Misha Koudinov, Kris Done, and Michael Newburger, and freshman Danny Steiner earned All-American honors. This was Echard’s third time being named an All-American, becoming only the second Buckeye to do this. Newburger earned his first All-American honor by finishing in third place on the pommel horse in the individual event finals. Steiner and Koudinov also earned their first honor and Koudinov tied for third place on the parallel bars. This was Done’s fifth All-Amerian honor. Returning four All-Americans next season is a strong indication that we should expect to see the Buckeyes reach the NCAA finals next year.
Men’s Tennis Wins a Big Ten Title
The third ranked OSU men’s tennis team had a great weekend, shutting out Purdue on Wednesday and then celebrating senior day by beating 21st ranked Michigan 6-1. The win gave the Buckeyes their 7th straight outright Big Ten regular-season title. The Buckeyes return to action this weekend as they travel to Evanston, Ill for the Big Ten Tournament.
Men’s Volleyball Hosts MIVA Semifinal
The defending national champion OSU men’s volleyball team begins their quest to defend their title today as they host Ball State in the semifinal of the MIVA conference tournament. As the conference regular season champion, the Buckeyes earned the top seed in the tournament and the first round bye that comes with it. Ball State is the fifth seed in the tournament and upset fourth seeded Grand Canyon in the first round last weekend. The Buckeyes and the Cardinals split their regular season meetings with the home team winning each time.
Buckeye senior Shawn Sangrey received a big honor last week as he was named MIVA Player of the Year. This was the third straight year a Buckeye has won this honor and the 20th time in program history.