Earlier today we told you that UConn senior-to-be Alex Oriakhi plans to transfer from Storrs and is on the radar at Florida, Kentucky, and Missouri. If UConn can’t play in next year’s NCAA Tournament due to NCAA sanctions — and the school is still waiting to hear about its appeal — Oriakhi could play his senior season immediately without sitting out a year.
However, as we also told you today, the SEC has a policy in place that is designed to prevent schools from simply bringing in rent-a-players for a single season of football or basketball. In Mike Slive’s own words last summer: “It is not acceptable for a student-athlete to transfer in solely for an athletic experience.”
But with at least three SEC institutions chasing Oriakhi anyway, we turned to the SEC for an explanation. The league’s quick-to-respond PR king Charles Bloom said that he’s been getting several questions about the league’s stance today and that the statement below “is our policy.”
SEC Bylaw 14.1.15
“A student-athlete who, upon enrollment at the certifying institution, has less than two years of eligibility remaining, is not eligible for financial aid, practice or competition at the member institution. A member institution may request a waiver from the Conference office for a student-athlete transferring from an institution discontinuing a sport, or for a student-athlete transferring for the purpose of enrolling in an academic program not offered at the institution from which he or she is transferring.”
In other words, as long as the league allows it, Oriakhi could transfer to an SEC school and play if he simply enrolls in an academic track not offered by UConn.
Which means all the bluster about last year’s “no more one-year transfers” policy was just that — bluster. Unless, of course, the commissioner is actually prepared to refuse said waiver.
There was much talk last summer about the SEC nixing oversigning. In reality, it didn’t. Schools could still oversign thanks to a “soft” cap of 25 signees that still allows for backcounting. The move was a step in the right direction, yes, but there was more PR involved than actual change.
It seems what became known as “the Jeremiah Masoli rule” was created with PR in mind, too. We may soon find out if that’s the case or just the appearance. If Oriakhi chooses one of the three SEC schools chasing him, Slive will have to either provide a waiver or deny the member institution’s request for one.
Though it would seem Florida, Kentucky and Missouri have a feeling such a waiver would be granted or else they’d probably not be wasting their time pursuing Oriakhi in the first place.