Florida men’s basketball has gotten a slew of transfers recently, but if you look around, it’s not just a Gainesville phenomenon.
Amid a mass exodus of Florida players in the wake of an NCAA Tournament bounce, Florida dipped its hands into the transfer portal. Penn State guard Myreon Jones, Missouri-Kansas City guard Brandon McKissic, Boston College forward C.J Felder and Charleston Southern guard Phlandrous Fleming Jr. all head to Gainesville next season.
Why are there so many incoming and outgoing transfers this offseason? A lot of it has to do with the NCAA’s impending new rule on one-time transfers. Quite frankly, I believe it should have been implemented a long time ago.
Let’s break it down. The NCAA granted basketball players a one-time transfer without penalty due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Players won’t have to sit out a year when they transfer, which makes them immediately eligible for the 2021-2022 season. The NCAA will meet about making this rule permanent April 15, and it’s expected to pass.
It’s why you’ve seen Gators players like Omar Payne and Noah Locke transfer out of Gainesville and parades of new players marching into town. The rule has been a long time coming for athletes in the NCAA, and I’ll also be glad if it extends to other sports, too.
It’s a problem in football.
Under previous transfer rules, certain players could get an exception for the year of ineligibility they face. For instance, former Miami and Ohio State quarterback Tathan Martell was granted immediate eligibility when he filed a waiver for his transfer from the Buckeyes to the Hurricanes.
Not all players shared that experience. Former Georgia and current Illinois tight end Luke Ford wasn’t granted that waiver when he wanted to play at Illinois to be closer to his family due to his grandparents’ failing health.
Simply put, if you’re a star quarterback, the NCAA was more likely to give you a waiver to play immediately. Other players in less glamorous positions suffered under the regulations.
If this new one-time transfer rule sticks, those days would stay in the past. All players, regardless of position, could play where they decided to after their first transfer, which allows student athletes more agency over their careers.
That agency is important. If they’re unhappy with their play time or want to move somewhere else for whatever reason, they should be allowed to do so without being punished for it.
It changes the recruiting game quite a bit, sure. Transfers will have higher value as experienced NCAA athletes. But, overall, the change will be good for all college sports in the long run, and I’m excited to see it implemented as a permanent change.
It looks like the NCAA is taking a rare step in the right direction. I can’t wait to see the possibilities.
Contact River Wells at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @riverhwells