Bruce Weber, Tom Izzo dislike rule

Updated: October 27, 2011, 6:13 PM ET
By Scott Powers | ESPNChicago.com

ROSEMONT, Ill. -- Illinois coach Bruce Weber and Michigan State coach Tom Izzo know they sound hypocritical, but they are actually against the rule that allowed two probable starters to transfer to their respective teams this season.

Both Big Ten coaches benefited from the NCAA rule that permits a student-athlete to transfer and receive immediate eligibility to a school that offers a graduate degree unavailable at his current university.

Sam Maniscalco transferred from Bradley to Illinois to pursue a graduate degree in recreation, sport and tourism. He earned a sports communications degree from Bradley. He's expected to be Illinois' starting point guard.

Brandon Wood departed Valparaiso for Michigan State for a graduate degree in advertising. He received his undergraduate degree in sports marketing at Valparaiso. He's expected to start in Michigan State's backcourt.

"I don't like the rule," Izzo said at Thursday's Big Ten basketball media day. "I hope that this doesn't get misconstrued as he doesn't like the rule, but he takes it advantage of it when it works for him. I didn't. When I got the letter from Brandon, I called their coaches immediately."

Weber had similar feelings.

"I worry about it," Weber said. "Obviously, we took advantage of it. Sammy was going to go somewhere. If I didn't take him, he was going to leave Bradley. I'm not defending it or whatever. But I worry about it for the mid-majors where they work with a kid, redshirt him and now they don't get to benefit.

"The problem the NCAA has is there are schools that legitimately don't have grad school. If a kid truly wants to go to grad school, his only option is to go someplace. If you take away the option totally, it could affect some kids. [To] the kid [Russell Wilson] at Wisconsin, Sammy, the basketball and the football is more important, although Sammy is going to get a master's degree from Illinois, which is pretty impressive."

The post-grad exception rule has become more of a hot topic since Wisconsin benefited so greatly from the addition of Wilson as its quarterback this season. Wilson had received a bachelor's degree at NC State and was able to play immediately for the Badgers this season. He has thrown for 16 touchdowns and ran for three more while helping Wisconsin (No. 15 BCS, No. 12 AP) to a 6-1 record.

"I think with the success the quarterback is having at Wisconsin I'm worried on whether this can get a little ugly down the road," Izzo said. "I'm not a huge fan of it because I don't think it's totally fair. I try to understand that from a player's standpoint. It's a difficult one. I don't have any responses from anyone about what you do about it."

Weber also didn't have answers, but he was just as concerned where it could lead.

"The things we talked in our meetings last spring is if it becomes a recruiting battle to '‘Let's go find some fifth-year guys,'" Weber said. "Not only are you recruiting high school kids and now you're recruiting kids on campus. That would not become a good thing, not good for our business."

Northwestern coach Bill Carmody nearly took advantage of the exception, but former Vanderbilt forward Andre Walker opted to transfer to Xavier over the Wildcats for his post-grad season. Like his colleagues, Carmody disliked the rule.

"I'm totally against that rule," Carmody said. "Michigan State got Valpo's best player. I think it's crazy. I think it's a big mistake by the NCAA.

"I think that's a bad trend. They say if you're going to go for a major or something. All these schools have anything you want. Come on."

Scott Powers is a general reporter for ESPNChicago.com. He is an award-winning journalist and has been reporting on preps, colleges and pros for publications throughout the Midwest since 1997.

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