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Could free agency be headed to college sports?

By KEITH PEEL, Contributing Writer

I’m no expert on the NBA but free agency seems to always bring out the craziest scenarios for players and fans. Who would have thought that Demarcus Cousins would sign a one-year deal with Golden State for $5.3 million dollars? Or Rajon Rondo would go to the Lakers … and team up with Lebron?So much movement among teams and players makes it hard for the average fan to keep up.

One other reason this whole “free agency In the NBA thing is crazy” is because that same scenario could soon exist in the college ranks if the NCAA proceeds with it’s proposal to allow players to transfer for any reason without having to sit for a year prior to playing for their new team.

Under one of the most recent proposals being discussed a player could leave their current school and transfer to a new school if they met the requirement of being in good academic standing — which is still undecided. Good academic standing is currently being proposed to be having a minimum grade point average of between 3.0 to 3.5.

If that proposal passes — it seems to have the support of the Division 1 Transfer Working Group — any player at any school that meets the academic requirements could leave and immediately begin play at another school during the next season.

Although that rule change would provide a free market for players to move from team to team — ala the NBA — it could create havoc for coaches and fans. Knowing that any player with a GPA of say 3.0 or higher could leave at the end of the season could create a completely different landscape for coaches.

Now every school would be working under the same scenario that John Calipari works under — namely that half your team could leave after each season — without the ability to recruit like John Calipari does. That would make life extremely difficult for some coaches who spend years recruiting high school players only to see them leave after one season. Especially coaches that run complex systems that may take players more than one season of experience to learn how to execute well.

College fans would now be like NBA fans. Spending their time waiting to see who will be transferring out and who will be transferring in. Most Kentucky fans are familiar with that scenario in basketball.

And what about teams that tend to stockpile players — think Alabama Football —  that may not see the field until they are juniors or seniors. Or sometimes not at all. Because of this practice a team like Alabama can have practices that are tougher than many of their current games. But that scenario may be a thing of the past if their talented backup players transfer elsewhere after each season. A free agent climate like the one being proposed for college players could create a whole new secondary market of recruiting for coaches that are in the “have not” category and are looking to immediately upgrade their talent level.

All in all the current situation for college athletes is not fair. It is completely slanted toward the coaches and member school’s athletic departments. Currently athletes are greatly restricted when they do legally transfer from one school to another and the restrictions are somewhat arbitrary depending on the sport and the school.

The NCAA transfer rules need to change but I’m not sure I’m ready for the free-for-all that NBA free agency has become. It would be interesting to see though, if after a particularly difficult season by the Wildcat Football Team, a huge influx of new talent arrived from various other SEC schools to immediately play the next season.

A team could quickly rise from being a bottom feeder to the top of the heap if they could recruit the right players from their other more competitive member institutions.

And if it seems like rivalries and rhetoric have gotten out of hand between some long time bitter rivals wait until the new transfer rule hits. You ain’t seen nothing yet.


  1. Could also lead to systematic grade deflation? Why would I want my players to have anything more than a GPA of 2.9999999?

  2. Currently, I believe players only receive a 1 year scholarship which is renewable each year. If this is the case, players are already playing each year without knowing if the coach will keep them the next year; aka, John Calipari having tryouts his first season and making players leave that did not make the cut. Although this doesn’t happen much, the possibility is there for each player, each year. I don’t think this would be good for college basketball, but maybe the college should jump first and make the scholarship guaranteed for 4 years. Either way, I don’t like the idea of “free agency” for the college players, but then again, other students can change colleges anytime. The NCAA keeps says “they are students first.”

  3. The college athletic scholarship was a multi-year commitment at one time, but that went the way of the dodo bird with freshman eligibility. The idea that a school can send a player packing for any reason after any season while the player cannot reciprocate seems unfair to me.

    I believe in free trade that is fair, without arbitrary restraints. Let kids go to the NBA regardless of age or experience, and give them mobility with respect to where they play if not pay for play.

    I admit to a bit of selfish in this reply, because that is essentially the environment UK faces every spring and summer, I would not not mind seeing this pain distributed more widely to affect Duke, UNC, Kansas, ………,

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