Readers of this site know that this particular writer believes one reason college basketball is falling farther and farther behind college football in terms of popularity is the game’s transient nature. Whether it’s schools like Kentucky who bring in a fresh batch of one-and-doners every year — how long before every NBA roster is made up of just UK kids, by the way? — or the growing number of transfers from one school to another, it’s becoming harder and harder for fans to connect with the players on Hometown U’s roster.
Yesterday, the fact that nearly 450 Division I players have transferred in the past year was clearly an issue for most of the basketball coaches taking part in the SEC’s teleconference.
Vanderbilt’s Kevin Stallings laid the blame on society’s need — and therefore players’ need — for “instant gratification.” Florida’s Billy Donovan blamed NCAA restrictions that kept coaches and players from getting to know each other better before signing day.
Auburn’s Tony Barbee added, “It’s obvious there’s too many (transfers). I think all of the coaches would agree.”
But according to Kevin Brockway of The Gainesville Sun, new South Carolina coach Frank Martin does not agree:
“Too many people are making too big of a deal on transfers at the Division I level. Kids are transferring three or four times in high school, it’s not like they are going to get to college and all of the sudden have an epiphany and decide to do things differently…
Transferring doesn’t make anyone a failure. It doesn’t mean the program is a failure, it doesn’t mean the young man is a failure.
If something is not right, if the young man is not happy, it’s going to be hard for everyone to coexist and it’s going to be healthy for the young man and the program to part ways. There is nothing more important in this business than the success of the young people, and if they are not having success they should have the right to transfer. As long as things are being done the right way, they should be allowed to transfer.”
From the looks of him, I wouldn’t expect Martin to be much of a softie, but I have to congratulate him on his view. While discussing 10 ways to improve college football back in May, I made it clear that as long as a player is in good academic standing and protecting his current school’s APR score, then he should be allowed to transfer without penalty or delay. It’s about doing what’s right for the athlete.
But what’s best for the athlete might not be what’s best for the sport of college basketball as a whole. I tend to side with the teenager over the millionaire coach, the multi-million dollar program, and multi-multi-million dollar industry whenever such a case arises. In this case, however, doing what’s right by the player only makes the game even more transient. And that is an issue the NCAA and the powers-that-be in college basketball will eventually have to tackle if they don’t want to become a tournament-only sport… which we’re fast approaching already.