The transfer gameWritten by Matt 'Shaggy' Culbreath | | email@example.com
A strange thing happened this week to the Toledo men’s basketball team.
Coach Tod Kowalczyk had been going hard after junior guard Kyle Vinales. The stud had averaged 21 points a game with Central Connecticut last year, but wasn’t happy that the program didn’t seem to be advancing along with him. He asked to be released from his scholarship in the hopes of finding a new, more successful home. He visited the likes of LaSalle, Buffalo, Kent State, Detroit, Oakland, along with a visit to Toledo. Over the weekend, he made an announcement on Twitter (all typos are left intact):
“Jus committed to the University of Toledo #gorockets”
“After praying and talkin to the people closest to I’ve decided to wait a little longer to make my decision. I’m still open to recruiting.”
What changed? Apparently a phone call from LSU has given him reason to reconsider. He can’t visit quite yet, the NCAA currently has a 2-week period in place where visits cannot take place. Should the Bayou Bengals impress him, I’m sure he’ll pack his bags and make the flight to Baton Rouge instead.
Now, bringing in talented kids from outside the recruiting ranks is nothing new for Coach Kowalczyk. It was literally the first thing he did when he got to Toledo, bringing Rian Pearson and Matt Smith with him from Green Bay. Dominique Buckley came to town via Iowa State. JD Weatherspoon and Justin Drummond will both join the team next year after sitting out for their transfers.
But I’m left wondering about the purpose of allowing these types of transfers to happen. I can understand a situation in where a player wants to be closer to family (case in point: Curtis Dennis leaving for Iona), or if the academic situation just doesn’t work for the player. I can also sympathise with a player who’s coach has turned sour on him; when a highly-touted recruit becomes the guy at the end of the bench, losing minutes to the walk-on. However, should a player be able to transfer to another team simply because he’s bummed out that his current one isn’t winning?
I’m not even sure I like asking the question, because it opens up too much gray area. What constitutes a legal transfer? What constitutes an illegal one? How can you make sure that the parties involved aren’t going to falsify the circumstances to let one happen? All very messy questions that, quite frankly, I don’t have the answer to
But it comes back to the academics for me. If the NCAA’s mission is to protect the integrity of the academic side of the student-athlete, then I’m not exactly sure what’s being served by allowing transfers for reasons that, in a vacuum, seem frivolous. Of course, I’m sure every player feels like they have a shot at the big time, and being stuck on a program like Central Connecticut doesn’t help your future one bit. That’s not the NCAA’s business. Their business (allegedly) is to make sure that athlete comes out of that program educated
I know that the incentives to stick it out are there. Namely, transfers have to sit out a year of playing if they’re transferring within their division (if they’re moving down a division, that year on the sidelines is waived off). Hell, in the game of college ball, that’s a bonus: when you’re playing amongst 18-22 year olds, being 23 or 24 has its physical advantages. How about this: unless there’s a logical reason for your transfer (family, academics, loss of playing time, etc.), not only do you sit a year, but you also lose that year of eligibility
Yes, we all want to be on winning teams. In Kyle Vinales’s case, he did everything he could for Central Conn, and he feels he’s not getting any support around him. I get that, but I also get that playing basketball isn’t the end-game, it’s getting an education. When you’re a student athlete, your focus can’t only be on a ring, it has to also be on a diploma.
Matt “Shaggy” Culbreath is sports director at 1370 WSPD.