Today word came out that five star recruit Eddie Vanderdoes had changed his mind from attending the University of Notre Dame this fall and deciding to attend UCLA. Because Vanderdoes signed a letter of intent this spring to play college football at Notre Dame, the Irish are not releasing him and he must sit out the 2013 season because of NCAA transfer rules. This got me thinking about one of the many hot topics that always seems to a part of the NCAA. Why a player must sit out a year when transferring but a coach can freely move about.
I am sure it happens before but this case regarding Vanderdoes seems truly unfair. He never set foot on campus as a member of the team yet is still not being released. He is from California, so maybe his decision is to be closer to home. Yet is being punished. I understand at first glance why he is being forced to sit out, because of the possibilities that coaches may continue recruiting a kid before he reaches a campus in the fall. But don’t tell me that this doesn’t happen in other instances already. When coaches withhold releasing a player who wants to transfer it really irks me. I think that is one of the most egotistical things coaches do. So what if a player wants to leave your program because either he doesn’t like the school, the team, the coach, wants more playing time. Sometimes coaches will limit who they can go to. Stating they can’t transfer to a conference member or rival or even sometimes an in-state school. You should be confident in your team enough to want to face that player again as a member of another team.
I understand the NCAA wants to protect student-athletes. And fully eliminating the transfer rule could open up a free for all, where players transfer simply for more playing time. But how is this different from coaches going to different and better positions. A coach can leave a school behind without notice and suffer no penalties. As much as the NCAA likes to say the players should choose schools and not coaches we all know that is not the case.
I think the first move that should be done is to allow players in a program where a coach leaves to be able to freely transfer as well. Why punish the player? I don’t think it would lead to a mass exodus of transfers because remember the players still need to find other programs willing to accept them with scholarships available. But simply give them the option.
What makes the whole situation confusing is that NCAA large sports (football and men’s basketball) have become businesses. They bring in large amounts of money. However the product involves amateur athletes who are supposed to be student-athletes. So it is the mish-mash of business (money) with amateur. It is a fine line that the NCAA must walk and an issue which will always bring controversy. The best thing that can be done for now is to do the logical thing. Why allow coaches to leave freely but force players to sit out for wanting the same thing….a better situation?