The Lesser Known Story of College Transfers

Time after time and all across twitter you see fans say, “there is no loyalty in sports anymore” in reaction to guys like Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving leaving the franchises that drafted them. You will also hear backlash regarding the onslaught of players in the NCAA transferring schools (878 transfers in Division 1 Basketball alone last year).

We see spectators attack kids on twitter accusing them of being soft or saying things like, “AAU has ruined the NCAA, Players just leave whenever the going gets tough.” I’m here to tell you these accusations are simply not true. The decision to transfer is not always the player’s decision.

The NCAA is a non-profit organization that was created to “protect” student-athletes, however they have rules set in place to deter athletes from transferring from school to school. These rules often punish student athletes by making them sit out a year, which can be covered by a redshirt year (each student-athlete gets one redshirt), unless of course the coaches decide to use that redshirt year during the player’s freshman season in an attempt to “develop” the player.

Players who do not have any redshirt years left will lose a year of eligibility. This is sad because student athletes are only allowed 4 years of eligibility to play the sport they love. So if an athlete falls into a situation or school that is not a good fit for their career, why should they not be allowed to do what is best for their life and their career, without repercussions. I mean in any other profession and for any other student if the school is not a good fit they can transfer freely, why should the NCAA hold this power over student-athletes?

Fans also fail to acknowledge that in many instances (not all) this decision to transfer does not always fall on the student’s shoulders. There is a common misconception that when a student-athlete signs a Letter of Intent, he is signing a contract that is a 4-year scholarship. WRONG. When a student-athlete signs a letter of intent for a scholarship this is a 1-year contract. Then at the end of the season the COACHES have the option to renew the player’s scholarship or not.

A coach can decide that this player is not a good fit for the program and revoke his scholarship forcing him to transfer with NO PENALTY to the program. Coaches are constantly trying to recruit better younger players. If the coaches feel they can recruit another player they feel would be a better fit for the program and need to make a scholarship available, many times they do so by letting a current player go, again with NO PENALTY AT ALL.

The NCAA, who is supposedly here “for the Athletes”, punishes that student-athlete by making them sit out a year if they want to transfer laterally to a Division 1 program.

If the NCAA wants to create rules that help student athletes, they should allow coaches to give out scholarships that are 4,3,2 or 1 year contracts that can be broken by the athlete at any time.

This will let recruits know how the coaches truly value them. If the coach only wants to offer a one-year scholarship and see if the player can help their program then fine, but this will allow the student-athlete to be able to make a complete educated decision if they want to take that risk. Coaches can sign multi-year contracts to schools and take another opportunity if they wish. Student-athletes should have the same freedom.

The NCAA needs to be reformed in many ways if they are truly an organization that is here to protect the student-athlete, if the NCAA wants to speak their mind or hear me out on some reforms they can contact me @ I’d love to sit down and chat. Hopefully the next time fans hear about all the transfers they know that there is always another side of the story, and were all just trying to live our best lives, so let us live.

Prusator is on Twitter @Indiana_GP, and is also co-host of the 'Haute Life Goat Life' podcast.

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