What should the NCAA do about player transfers?

Published: Saturday, April 21 2012 7:06 p.m. MDT

Auburn quarterback Cam Newton (2) celebrates with fans following their 51-31 win over Mississippi in their NCAA college football game in Oxford, Miss., Saturday, Oct. 30, 2010. Newton transferred to Auburn where he won the Heisman Trophy and led the Tigers to a BCS title.

Rogelio V. Solis, AP

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You be the judge.

We're in search of justice, fairness and, if necessary, more NCAA reform. Or nothing, the status quo.

Do NCAA regulations that govern the transfer of athletes have too many restrictions favoring schools at the expense of players?

Are the current rules necessary to prevent wholesale transfers, thus failed investments in recruiting? Or is it coach and athletic director paranoia?

Should athletes have a right to play where they want to, when they want to, as a matter of basic freedom of choice and constitutional rights?

Are schools justified in abruptly yanking an athlete's scholarship for any reason, or running off players they don't want to make room for other recruits? Or is that hypocrisy?

Case 1: BYU coach Dave Rose met with senior-to-be and graduate-to-be Nick Martineau a few weeks ago and informed the guard he would not have a scholarship for next year, 2012-2013. Martineau wasn't happy the way the university spun it in a press release, which gave the impression he chose to quit basketball and graduate. Schools can take away athletic scholarships at any time; they are one-year renewable agreements.

Case 2: University of Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak recruited California high school player Josh Hearlihy out of Harvard-Westlake High School last year, offered him a scholarship, and signed him to a letter of intent for financial aid this past November. Two weeks ago, Krystkowiak had concerns about Hearlihy's health and missed games as a senior and rescinded the scholarship. This gives Utah a third scholarship to recruit with now and Hearlihy is out at least one year of paid college education unless he can land another school in coming months.

Case 3: The University of Hawaii just denied an appeal by the parents of defensive back Mike Wadsworth, who is currently on an LDS mission, to release him from his scholarship. Hawaii specifically blocked Wadsworth from transferring to BYU, denying him a release. If Wadsworth, a former Orem resident who played at Henderson's Silverado High in Nevada, still wants to transfer to BYU, NCAA rules prohibit him from receiving financial aid in Provo for a year. Paying his own tuition may not be an issue for Wadsworth since his father is co-founder of Morinda Bioactives (formerly Tahitian Noni International). Hawaii's action follows a new NCAA rule, "The Riley Rule," enacted after Utah State complained about Aggie quarterback Riley Nelson's transfer to BYU after an LDS mission to Spain. It is more restrictive to LDS missionaries who transfer.

Case 4: Wisconsin basketball coach Bo Ryan came under fire this past week for blocking 6-8 freshman forward Jarrod Uthoff from transferring within the Big Ten (not an unusual restriction) or 15 other schools including any in the ACC, nearby Marquette, Iowa State or Florida. Ryan said he wanted Uthoff to go through an appeal process to make him explain to administrators why he wanted to transfer. After the case went viral this week, Ryan backed down from some of his restrictions and blocked schools.

In the above cases, the NCAA is protective of the schools but restrictive to the athlete. Rules that govern such transfers and scholarship terms are under review and debate.

The NCAA just passed legislation that gives schools the option of issuing multi-year scholarships but it does not require schools to do anything.

There are NCAA critics who are on hypocrisy watch that want the NCAA to go further and lift all restrictions from players who want to transfer to other schools, even inside a conference. These folks say releases should be given without penalty and athletes should be able to regain another scholarship if one is offered at another place.

Would this be a fair change in NCAA rules?

Would the house of cards fall down if athletes could do what coaches can do at any time — change their minds?

One national pundit has already made up his mind.

Wrote Seth Davis of SI.com this week: "Indeed, if there is one good thing that came out of all of this (Bo Ryan and Jarrod Uthoff flare-up), it's that people are becoming more educated about the process. Mostly, they're learning it stinks. To think, all this happened because a college freshman wanted to change schools. Here's hoping the NCAA does the right thing and changes a bad rule."

You decide.

What's your verdict?

email: dharmon@desnews.com TWITTER: Harmonwrites

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