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Fox Debates Transfer Policies With Reporter (Who Apparently Agrees With His Transfer Policy)

During a conversation with Michael Carvell of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Georgia hoops coach Mark Fox said all the right things regarding student-athletes who wish to transfer, at least from the perspective of most media and fans.  Ironically, the scribe and the coach still wound up having what the reporter calls a “spirited” Q&A.

Fox is a coach who believes kids should be able to transfer wherever they like so long as there’s been no tampering on the part of another school.  Fair enough, though we’ve written many times that in today’s PR-first world, coaches can’t win points by claiming tampering.  As soon as a coach restricts a player’s transfer options, he’s made himself a target for negative recruiting.  That said, Fox has no problem allowing players to transfer — even within his own conference — which is a rarity among most coaches:


“I think as coaches, as long as there hasn’t been tampering, I don’t see why you should preclude a kid on going somewhere where they can pursue their lifelong goals.  I don’t think, in those situations, that there’s any reason to try to steer them away from any particular school.”


I don’t know about you, but I like that answer.  But Carvell chose to follow up by asking what Fox thought about the recent backlash against coaches who “can move freely at a moment’s notice” yet still choose to restrict their players’ movements.  Again, Fox had already made it clear that he wasn’t one of those coaches.  But when hit with the “can move freely at a moment’s notice” part, Fox apparently bristled:


“That’s not true.  Coaches can’t move around freely.  Coaches are bound by buyout agreements and everything else.  That’s not accurate.  If I wanted to leave Georgia, which I don’t and never want to … there’s a buyout in my contract that discourages that from occurring.  For those who say coaches go wherever they want to go, that’s not true.  I think in 90-percent of the contracts, there’s a buyout provision that if a coach would leave, there would be something given to the school that he’s leaving.  I don’t think that has been portrayed accurately.  I think the big issue was when there has been tampering that leads to a transfer, there ought to be, from athletic director to athletic director, some ability in place for them to restrict kids to go to schools that have tampered with the current situation.”


What appears to be a bit of a tiff between two men who actually both believe players should be allowed to transfer at their will only escalated from there:


Carvell:  ”I realize that transfer restrictions can be a complex issue inside college basketball circles.  But I do think mainstream America sees it as ‘Why should coaches be able to move on and players can’t?’ like you mentioned.  That’s how they are seeing it.”

Fox:  “Why do they feel that way?  Because they read what Seth Davis or Michael Carvell write.  I’m glad you’re doing the story so you can accurately portray it.  Again, we’ve got no issues with any of it because I don’t have any guys leaving right now.  If, when we’ve had some guys leave, we’ll let them go wherever.”


Now that’s a hoot.  Two guys on the same side of an argument going tit-for-tat over a side issue.  Carvell might have been better taking his questions to Bo Ryan, the Wisconsin coach who recently got lit up like a Christmas tree for trying to bar one of his ex-players from playing at half the schools on the North American continent.  Instead he happened to find a coach who’s open to letting kids go… and he still managed to rile him up.

This is no knock on Carvell who we link to often and who’s writings we enjoy.  But in this case, it seems Fox’s first answer should have nixed the line of questions the reporter had prepared.


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