College coaches blocking transfers? A new NCAA rules ends the practice

Updated: Jun. 13, 2018 at 3:59 PM CDT
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(WBRC) - Will a new NCAA rule change starting October 15 change the landscape of college athletics?

In a bombshell decision, the NCAA's Division-I Council has ruled that coaches can no longer block an athlete from transferring to a school of their choice. In fact, upon an athlete's notification that he/she plans to transfer, the athlete's coach and/or administrators will have two days to put the name of that athlete in a national transfer database.

Called the "Notification Of Transfer" rule, a division one athlete will be allowed to freely transfer simply by notifying his/her head coach. Nicholas Clark, who represents the Division-I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee on the Council, says the rule change promotes fairness and the well-being of college athletes everywhere.

"This creates a safe place for student-athletes to have a conversation with their coaches and makes the whole process more transparent. This will clean the process up and give more influence and flexibility to the student-athlete," Clark says.

What do the coaches think?

Alabama football coach Nick Saban voiced his displeasure at the thought of allowing athletes to freely transfer as he spoke to the media at the SEC meetings in Destin. Saban has blocked the transfer of lineman Brandon Kennedy, and a few years back blocked the transfer of defensive back Maurice Smith before SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey stepped in and signed a waiver to immediately approve of  Smith's transfer to Georgia.

"If a guy's missing class and I say, 'You're not going to play because you're missing class', which I've done on occasion and then he says, 'Then I'm transferring'… Is that good?" Saban said.

Auburn coach Gus Malzahn has also been at the center of the storm, as last year he blocked the transfer of defensive lineman Antwuan Jackson, Jr., who had asked to transfer to another SEC team.

Will the new rule result in, as Saban indicates, a mass exodus of players from their teams because at some point they become unhappy? Will there be more cases of opposing coaches "recruiting" players on other teams knowing the players can leave at any time? The new NCAA ruling states that any coach found luring or recruiting a player from an opposing team will be considered committing an NCAA level 2 violation.

The bottom line? Any student-athlete with access to the one-time transfer exception still has access to it. Today's rule change allows student-athletes to transfer and receive a scholarship without having to ask permission from their current school. No permission required, notification only. That's good news for student-athletes everywhere.

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