NCAA should transfer some power to athletes
Published: Thursday, May 23, 2013 at 8:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, May 22, 2013 at 9:07 p.m.
On the field, Florida's softball team was playing to advance to a super regional. In the crowded press box, the real action was taking place.
There, at one of the two refrigerators housing drinks, a young man was on one knee working feverishly. His job? Removing all of the labels from the water bottles before they were cooled down for media and staff consumption.
That, my friends, is the NCAA in a nutshell.
Attention to detail, but not the big picture. God forbid that someone be seen with a product that isn't spending a lot of money to be partners with the organization. But when it comes to things that really matter, meh, the archaic rules are good enough.
I bring this up (again) because of what happened last week when it was revealed that Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy put restrictions on where quarterback Wes Lunt could transfer.
Gundy is not the first coach to do this and won't be the last. Forget that this is the same coach who berated a reporter in public because of his “concern” for a player. (“Come after me! I'm a man! I'm 40!”) Apparently, his concern for players goes out the window when that player wants to leave lovely Stillwater.
Coaches do this all the time. Not all coaches do it, but most will put restrictions on where a player can go. Why do they do it? Because they can.
And this is where the NCAA has once again let down the student-athletes they claim to be so concerned about.
I'd like to see Mark Emmert — actually, I'd like to see someone besides Mark Emmert because he is part of the problem — stand up one day and say, “Hey, who are we fooling here? The players are our widgets. They are simply faceless names that we use as pawns while we try to squeeze as much money as possible out of TV and sponsors. They have no rights.”
At least that would be honest.
Instead, a coach can flirt with another school (like Gundy did with Tennessee) to get a raise or he can simply up and leave and text his players goodbye and nobody raises an eyebrow. But if a player decides that he wants to transfer and get a fresh start, not so fast my friend.
First, you have to sit out a year unless you want to drop down a level and play for friends and family. And we aren't going to let you transfer in conference or to a school where our offensive coordinator just got the head coaching job or to a team we might play in a bowl game or to a team coached by a guy I don't like.
Those of you who are old enough remember when Carlos Alvarez was playing at Florida. He tried to push for a student-athlete bill of rights while he was a Gator. The catalyst was the hiring of Doug Dickey when the players felt they had lost a father figure because Ray Graves was pushed to the athletic director's seat.
Didn't work then. And it hasn't gotten any better.
But this is another place where the membership could get involved and give these kids a break. I know that we live in a selfish time where players leave schools because they are not playing enough minutes. But they also leave because they don't like their teammates or the school or they are having problems.
My solution sounds simple. Which is why it won't happen. Unless you can put a few letters and decimal points (“according to bylaw 14.2a-c.45, touchdown will be worth six points”), it doesn't make the NCAA manual.
But what if this idea became a part of every scholarship a player signed? In each schollie, there would be a list of schools that player would not be allowed to transfer to should he or she decide to leave. No hidden agendas, there it is in black and white.
That noise you heard was coaches shuddering around the country.
Because what would happen? Nobody would want to put into writing how unfeeling they could be. They are supposed to be selling these kids on the premise they will take care of them.
As a result, no coach would include that language in any offer. And the restrictions would be no more.
I can dream, right? Instead, the NCAA has more pressing issues.
There are water bottles with labels to be peeled off.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.