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Let them play

A judge has ruled a stay for two weeks for the NCAA enforcing the two time transfer rule.

Syndication: The Fayetteville Observer Albert Cesare / The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

I’m not a lawyer, so I can’t begin to tell you the extent of what this ruling means, but today’s decision to essentially block the NCAA from enforcement of its two time transfer rule is a big decision. Here’s the context:

From Justin Williams’ twitter thread:

BREAKING: In Ohio vs NCAA, Judge John Preston Bailey issues a temporary restraining order (for the next 14 days) that grants immediate eligibility to any college athletes currently seeking it via a multi-transfer waiver.

Next hearing is scheduled for Dec. 27, 2023.

This essentially means for the next 14 days, NCAA can’t require any multi-time transfers to sit out while seeking a waiver for immediate eligibility.

Judge will likely decide whether to grant a preliminary injunction—which would likely extend thru length of a trial—on Dec 27.

Also important to note that in addition to enjoining the NCAA from enforcing its year of residence rule for multi-time transfers, the judge also did the same for the NCAA rule of restitution, meaning schools can’t be punished for playing impacted athletes over the next 14 days.

Then the response from the NCAA:

Ross Dellenger clarified that this is not a permanent change to the NCAA’s transfer policy, and it only for the next two weeks. So for the next two weeks, the NCAA is not enforcing its two-time transfer policy. That means, at least from my understanding, any student athlete who is currently in season and sitting out due to the NCAA’s two time transfer rule are now eligible to participate. At least for the next few weeks.

The policy is now that student athletes can transfer once and not have to sit out any competition. A second transfer requires the student athlete to sit out from competition, unless that athlete has graduated... there’s also a waiver system set up for grievances and exceptions for mental health... et cetera.

I’ve written about this before, so I’m sure you’ll all be shocked to hear that I think this is the right move. Until student athletes are granted status as employees, and given collective bargaining rights, the NCAA should not restrict player movement from school to school.

Yes, this will cause chaos in player movement, even more so than there is now. And I’ll also add that I don’t even like the idea of unlimited transfers, but I don’t see a good argument against it as long as players are not listed as employees of the school and as long as they aren’t breaking any contractual agreements.

Coaches can hop from job to job and the only hindrance is the buyout. But there’s nothing stopping any coach at any program from going to a different school to coach every year so why should there be a restriction on players? Any arguments against it tend to come down to, “it’s icky”.

The biggest hypocrites here are the coaches, the ones who for years blocked transfers and limited a player’s ability to move on to any school or conference they wanted. Coaches could submit a list of schools players weren’t allowed to transfer to and conference usually had rules about players transferring within their own conference... all at the behest of coaches. They felt it gave them a competitive advantage to control player movement. But now, coaches will complain about the transfer “epidemic” while ushering players out the door and using the portal almost exclusively over high school recruiting. Then when their own player needs an exception for the two-time transfer, coaches are the first ones in line to complain in the press. It never fails, if there’s a coach with a two time transfer on his roster he thinks that player should be granted the exception.

“He meets the criteria”

“If we don’t want waivers, we shouldn’t have waivers (established in years past). And that, in my opinion, is totally wrong and unfair. It’s unfair, it’s wrong.”

There are more, these are the two that stick out in my head.

The reality here is that it is weird and it is different from what we’ve been accustomed to for decades. Players didn’t really transfer all that much. But now we are finally getting close to the age of athlete empowerment and that means that coaches and Universities can no longer use the NCAA to prohibit players making money or allowing them to change jobs. After all that’s what this is... it’s a job. And if someone offered you more money to change jobs, or you were really unhappy at your current job, you can go find a new job. There’s no reason why college athletes shouldn’t be able to find the best fit for them, and move on if they no longer feel that way.

The best thing coaches can do is create an environment where players want to be part of the team. You build that and you’ll see a lot less movement. Seems like there’s less movement at the good programs than the bad ones right now. Maybe that’s the way to do it.