The immediate eligibility of graduate transfers has been a point of contention amongst head coaches and the college sports media alike.
The spirit of the rule is spot-on: If a player completes his or her undergraduate degree with eligibility remaining, than the athlete can transfer to a different university without having to sit out a season if they enroll in a graduate program that’s not offered at their current school.
Reward good students. Promote pursuing an education. Allow kids to take advantage of scholarship opportunities.
The problem, coaches have said for a long time, is that this is nothing more than a loophole used by these athletes to play their way into a bigger and better program. It’s not about the education, it’s about playing at a higher level.
A study released by the NCAA on Thursday seems to support that. The NCAA tracked 353 graduate transfers from 2011 and 2012, and what they found is that the overwhelming majority, particularly in men’s basketball and football, never complete that graduate degree. Here are the numbers:
Just 32% of the men’s basketball graduate transfers completed their graduate degree within two years. The majority of them, according to the study, withdrew when their eligibility ended.
So maybe the coaches were right. But does that mean that the rule should be done away with?
In my mind, it doesn’t, and I’m going to ignore, for a second, the argument that no transfers should cost a year of eligibility as long as these student-athletes aren’t getting paid.
For starters, even if the athletes are using this solely as an opportunity to transfer to a better program without punishment, it’s still an incentivizes the right thing. It still creates a reason for a player to earn their degree, and that’s a good thing. The more players that the NCAA can ship off to the professional ranks with a degree in hand, the better.
But there are also plenty of players that are using this rule the way that it was intended. We’re going to punish them because there are people out there willing to take advantage of a loophole in the rule? If coaches hate this rule so much, than find way to convince their colleagues to stop knowingly taking graduate transfers that have no intention of being a grad school grad.