Transfer exception gains in popularity, scrutiny
by Nicole Auerbach, USA TODAY Sports
In this world of immediate gratification, there’s nothing better for a college basketball transfer than knowing that he’ll be able to play immediately at his new school.
There’s one sure-fire way to do it. Graduate students who have not previously transferred can use the one-time transfer exception to play right away at their new school. If a player has completed his undergraduate coursework and has a year of eligibility remaining, he’s good to go. No waiver is necessary — a change implemented at the start of the 2011-12 season, according to the NCAA — so it’s easier than ever for graduates to play immediately.
Former Xavier guard Mark Lyons used the exception. This season, he’ll play at Arizona for the coach who originally recruited him to the Musketeers, Sean Miller. Former Louisville forward Jared Swopshire will play at Northwestern this season, too. Same exception, same result.
Last season, 15 college basketball players played as graduate student transfers — including Brandon Wood, who graduated from Valparaiso and then played at Michigan State.
“Sometimes, in life you have to make selfish decisions,” Wood told USA TODAY Sports this spring. “If players handle their business and do what they have to do in the classroom and have the opportunity to do this, take advantage of this rule to better themselves, then I think it’s something people should look into doing.”
Coaches — even the ones who use this rule to bolster their rosters — have spoken out overwhelmingly against it.
“You work with a kid for three, four years, work with him for four years because he’s injured, then he graduates in four years,” Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said. “Just when he’s at his very best, he decides the grass is greener on the other side.”
Said Purdue coach Matt Painter: “That is free agency.”
A task force convened by NCAA president Mark Emmert to look specifically and extensively at transfer rules is focusing on the one-time transfer exception as one of its main areas of concern. (The task force, which is actually a subcommittee of the Division I Leadership Council, is still early in its review and may … [For more on Grad transfer exception gains in popularity, scrutiny, click here.]