Confusion reigns in transfer realm

April, 18, 2012
4/18/12
12:58
PM ET
On Tuesday, Wisconsin redshirt freshman Jordan Uthoff's story -- in which Uthoff told coach Bo Ryan he wanted to transfer and watched as Ryan subsequently added 25 schools (all of the Big Ten and ACC, plus Iowa State and Marquette) to Uthoff's banned list -- became just the latest example of the drastic lack of equality between college basketball coaches and their amateur players.

It is also, apparently, an example of mutually shared confusion.

On Monday, Uthoff told the Metro Sports Report in its original story that he was appealing the banned list to Wisconsin's athletics compliance department:
Uthoff has appealed the restrictions to the University of Wisconsin's compliance office, which is the office that informed him of the bans in the first place.

"I have not heard back from them," he said. "The next step would be the NCAA."

On Tuesday night, a source close to the Wisconsin program told ESPN.com that wasn't the case.

"We have not received any appeals," the source said.

When Division I men's basketball players wish to transfer, they follow a typical process. First, they speak to their coach. Then, they formally submit a transfer request, which includes permission-to-contact letters for schools players wish to speak with about a possible move. The school can approve or deny permission to any of these schools.

Depending on the results, players have up two business days to submit a written appeal of the school's/coach's banned list.

According to the above source, Uthoff did not appeal any of the schools that were originally banned by Ryan. According to Uthoff, he did.

Ryan declined to comment when reached for comment by ESPN.com's Andy Katz Tuesday night.

Uthoff's situation is not the only transfer matter up for scrutiny in recent days. At Tulsa, according to the Tulsa World, all-conference sophomore Jordan Clarkson requested permission to contact eight other schools in his transfer matter. He was released to talk to three, according to the World, potentially because of allegations of premature contact with other schools during the season. Clarkson's father adamantly denied these claims.

Both Uthoff and Clarkson's transfer sagas are emblematic of outsized coaching power, true, but they are also, as some have argued, emblematic of the behind-the-scenes confusion that makes it difficult to understand transfer situations in the first place, particularly for outsiders. Thanks to privacy laws and intentional obfuscation, schools typically don't release their reasons for restricting players' transfer options. Saint Joe's coach Phil Martelli was hammered relentlessly for refusing to release Todd O'Brien to play for UAB this season. As O'Brien languished on the bench at UAB, and the media murmured "there's got to be more to this story," Martelli constantly refused comment. As such, O'Brien's account reigned, and Martelli's once-sterling reputation was at least somewhat tainted.

Without some process of disclosure, the reasons coaches have for not allowing a player to transfer to a different school -- beyond the obvious competitive aspects -- rarely, if ever, see the light of day. And so confusion reigns.

Of course, that assumes there are valid reasons to block a player from transferring to a different school in the first place. I would argue there is never a particularly good reason, but even allowing shades of gray -- same-conference transfer bans seem at least somewhat understandable, as is the desire to prevent tampering -- the power coaches can wield over where their player finishes his or her career seems as unnecessarily outsized as the process is cumbersome.

The lesson, as always: Nine times out of 10, just let the kid transfer. The bad press isn't worth it. Neither is the headache.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Comments

You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?