Unfair College Basketball Transfer Rules

Steve Alford press conference at UCLA

The NCAA currently has many rules that are unfair to college basketball players.  One obvious one is the fact that players are not compensated despite the fact that their schools and the NCAA make tons of money off their talents and their likeness. Another is that players are not necessarily guaranteed a four year scholarship out of high school, instead having to earn their scholarship and renew it on a year by year basis. But perhaps the most unfair rule is the fact that they have to sit out a year (there are exceptions, such as family reasons, to this rule) if a player decides they want to transfer, but coaches are allowed to change schools and accept better jobs without penalty.

Just this past offseason, Steve Alford agreed to a 10 year agreement to stay put at New Mexico, and then days later Alford agreed to become the next head coach of the UCLA Bruins. Nobody except maybe fans of New Mexico can blame him. UCLA is possibly the most prestigious program in the country as well as one of the best jobs. He makes more money at UCLA than he would have at New Mexico. The job at UCLA was a simply a better one. The only travesty here, and in situations like this, is that the only consequence Alford received was the buyout he had to pay New Mexico due to the terms of his contract with them. If a player on that team wanted to leave, whether it is because he didn’t want to play for the new coach, or simply thought there was a better situation out there for him, as Alford did, that player would have to sit out an entire season.

Furthermore, a player needs permission from his current coach to contact other schools that the player would be interested in transferring to, and often, the current coach will not allow him to transfer to certain schools, particularly those in conference or teams that they play regularly. In other words, a player transferring due to lack of playing time can’t transfer to a competitor of his current school because a coach doesn’t want that player to compete against him. The rules pertaining to student’s transferring are often confusing, muddied, and mostly unfair to the players.

The NCAA has said recently that they have discussed a system in which players would be compensated. As bad as I feel for all college basketball players because they aren’t being compensated fairly, I feel worse for the players that can’t attend the schools of their choice, or those who have to sit out a year in order to do so. If coaches can move freely from one team to another, the players they recruit should have the same liberties, and the NCAA should put this issue at the top of their agenda at their next rules meeting.