Bill Self against altering transfer rules to make players immediately eligible
Kansas coach Bill Self is as familiar with the ins and outs of players transferring as anyone in college basketball.
But Self made it clear Thursday during his weekly press conference he isn’t in favor of any changes to NCAA transfer rules that would allow players to leave one university and become immediately eligible at their new school without sitting out for a year.
One such plan that originated within the Big 12, though, would enable players to do so in certain circumstances. A report from Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports this week detailed a proposal to reform NCAA transfer bylaws for those sports currently impacted — football, men’s and women’s basketball, baseball and hockey — and begin applying the rules to all Division I sports.
Suggested changes included allowing athletes to transfer and become eligible for competition without taking a redshirt season if their head coach were fired or left the school to take another job. That rule, however, would not allow players to follow their head coach to another school and become immediately eligible.
The proposal also called for players to be able to freely transfer and play immediately if their program received a postseason ban from the NCAA.
Self expressed his concerns about such rules possibly being put in place.
“I think any time when you don't have to sit out is a very, very, very bad rule. I personally think, for instance, and there has been talks that if a coach leaves, allow everybody to leave, but they can't go to the school with the coach. What about an assistant coach? … I guess he doesn't fall into that category. If he takes the players he recruited to go to another school, they'd have to sit,” Self began.
“The thing about it is, with our sport, people talk a lot about a lot of different things with our sport. Competitive balance is good. What you've done is you've just eliminated that with (reforming transfer bylaws).”
The 15th-year Kansas coach also wondered aloud how altered transfer rules would deal with a coach’s retirement.
“That whole team can leave before you have an opportunity to hire a new coach. I don't understand. And I don't understand how that fits into the academic component, where statistics show, unless you have a certain grade point average or whatnot, statistics show when you transfer, not usually all credits transfer, and it takes a little bit longer to graduate,” Self said.
“If we're looking at it from the big picture as to what's best for student-athletes as a whole over time, I would think graduation would be at the top of the list, and then I think competitive balance is right there underneath that,” he added.
According to Dodd’s report for CBS Sports, the proposal is just a preliminary one at this time. Some updated version of it, though, could be considered for legislation by the NCAA this June, as the Division I Transfer Working Group continues to examine possible changes to Division I transfer rules.
While the latest proposal, authored by faculty athletics representatives at Baylor and Iowa State, does not authorize players to leave one school and join another with immediate eligibility, Self has stated previously he is against any such “free agency” in major college athletics. KU’s coach reiterated his stance this week.
“I have strong beliefs on this, as do all coaches across America. The free agency aspect of it, where kids can go wherever they want to go, whenever they want to do it, we are all strongly, strongly, strongly against. It's not because we think it's negative with kids. It creates an environment where now you're actually recruiting players from other teams in handshake lines,” Self suggested. “You have something negative happen to your program, and you just look for a guy at a mid-major that averages 15 (points) a game, we'll throw some bait out there for him.”
Such a reality, Self explained, would be impossible to legislate, because of the ability of all parties to use back channels.
“Everybody’s got a contact that knows somebody,” he said, “and people can contact you.”
As explained in the drafted proposal by Jeremy Counseller, a law professor at Baylor, and Tim Day, professor of molecular pharmacology at Iowa State, the hope is that changes would help student-athletes.
The document shared with CBS Sports suggests players should be entitled to transfer from a university without getting permission of the institution and become immediately eligible for aid and practice upon enrolling at a different school.
KU’s active roster this season includes transfers Sam Cunliffe (Arizona State) and Malik Newman (Mississippi State). Three other players are redshirting this year after leaving other programs to join Self’s Jayhawks: Dedric and K.J. Lawson (Memphis) and Charlie Moore (Cal).
During Self’s 15 seasons at Kansas 14 players have transferred in from other Division I programs (either mid-college career or as graduates) while 16 have left KU for another D-I program. The most recent departures are Carlton Bragg Jr., who left for Arizona State and has since moved on again, to New Mexico, and Dwight Coleby, who joined the Jayhawks as a transfer from Ole Miss and left as a graduate to play at Western Kentucky.