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Friday, July 6, 2012
Michael Bradley's eligibility is complicated

By Eamonn Brennan

This week, Vincennes University, a two-year junior college on the southwest Indiana side of the Illinois-Indiana border, announced a (relatively) momentous bit of transfer news: Michael Bradley, formerly of the Connecticut Huskies, would be joining the Vincennes basketball team for the 2012-13 season.

Bradley left UConn, where he famously gave up his scholarship to make room for highly touted 2011 recruit Andre Drummond, this summer in an attempt to play at Western Kentucky. But when the NCAA denied his appeal to play immediately -- a slightly strange decision, given Bradley's injuries and background -- the 6-foot-10 forward needed to find a place to play right away. That place just so happened to be a small Indiana junior college. Simple enough.

Michael Bradley
Michael Bradley will spend the 2012-13 season playing for Vincennes.
What was less simple was what all this meant for Bradley's eligibility. My editor emailed me with exactly that question, and we spent some time going through the NCAA transfer rules, but NCAA bylaws have a way of somehow being both dense and vague. Far as we could tell, the rules made it seem that Bradley would be OK to transfer back to a Division I school after one year at Vincennes, provided he carried over his coursework and completed the necessary added requirements for graduation from the two-year school in the coming year.

That's correct in a general sense. But, as we expected, Bradley's eligibility status is slightly more complicated. Bylaw Blog's John Infante took it upon himself to answer our question at AthleticScholarships.net, but not before laying out the distinctions between transfer types and the category Bradley currently belonged to. Warning, long blockquote ahoy:
The NCAA has three basic types of transfers and four basic sets of transfer rules. 4–4 transfers are transfers from a four-year college to another four-year college. 2–4 transfers are transfers from a two-year college (i.e. a junior or community college) to a four-year college. And 4–2–4 transfers are transfers from a four-year college to a two-year college then to another four-year college. [...]

When a student-athlete becomes a 4–2–4 transfer, he needs to meet the requirements of Bylaw 14.5.6 to play immediately when he ends up back at a Division I school:

1. Complete an average of 12 credit-hours per term of full-time enrollment at the two-year school;
2. Have one year elapse from the time the student-athlete left the first four-year school; and
3. Graduate from the junior college with an associates degree.

All of this should be relatively straightforward for Bradley. His unfulfilled residency requirement at WKU would also not stand in his way because 4–2–4 transfers are not affected by an unfilled residency requirement (only 4–4 transfers are). There is one potential speed bump though. [...]

When Bradley returns to Division I next year, he will have finished three years or six semesters of college. That means he will need to have completed 60% of his degree according to Bylaw 14.4.3.2. Normally that’s not an issue, but it can be when an athlete transfers to a junior college after his second year.

Essentially, Infante writes, Bradley will have to choose his courses carefully at Vincennes to ensure that he has the 60 percent degree requirement fulfilled by the time he finishes what could be his lone year at the school. Bradley's situation seems all out of whack, but provided he gets the courses he needs from Vincennes, he should graduate with an associates degree from the two-year school and should be able to transfer back to a Division I school to play next season.

In shorter terms: Yes, Bradley can play Division I basketball again, probably even next season. And that's the answer to that question. Thanks, John.