By Ken Reed
The coaches can leave whenever they want to. The players are stuck.
Football coach Tom Herman bolted the University of Houston for the University of Texas only 12 hours after reportedly telling his Houston players that he wasn’t going anywhere.
He’s not the first coach to lie to his players about his coaching plans. Nick Saban and Rich Rodriguez have done it, as have a bunch of others. Northwestern’s Gary Barnett once told his team he wasn’t leaving. He said he was focused on “Taking the Purple Back to Pasadena” for the Rose Bowl. A day later he was at a press conference in Boulder accepting the head job at the University of Colorado.
My issue isn’t really big-time football and basketball coaches leaving their schools for what they perceive as greener pastures (although many of them could do it in a more honest and ethical manner). My issue is the NCAA’s plantation mentality and policies, which makes it extremely hard for athletes to move from one college to another.
Studies show that anywhere from 25%-33% of general students (non-athletes) enrolling in a given college or university will transfer to another school during a six-year period. Student-athletes don’t have that luxury without jumping through a lot of hoops and dealing with penalties. NCAA Division I athletes (football, basketball and several other sports) must sit out a year if they transfer to another Division I institution. Furthermore, they must request a formal release from their current school before they can even transfer. On top of that, their current coach can block them from attending another school in the same conference, or any other schools that the coach doesn’t want to see a particular athlete playing at. For example, if a kid plays for Michigan and wants to transfer, his coach can block him from transferring to not only archrival Ohio State, but the entire Big Ten and possibly other schools as well.
It’s not just head coaches that act unethically when it comes to dealing with players, it’s assistant coaches as well. It’s a common practice for assistant coaches to wait until after national letter of intent (NLI) signing day to announce their moves to other schools. So, in effect, an athlete who signs with a university because he loves the assistant coach who recruited him is stuck with a new position coach, who he’s usually never met, the day after signing.
The solution to this injustice isn’t rocket science: Let players transfer with no penalty if their position coach, coordinator or head coach leaves.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #30 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The State of College Athletics with Dr. David Ridpath: Problems and Potential Solutions – Ridpath is a sports administration professor at Ohio University and a long-time member of The Drake Group, a college sports reform think tank.
Follow on Facebook: @SportsForumPodcast
Episode #29 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Honorable Tom McMillen Visits League of Fans’ Sports Forum – McMillen is a former All-American basketball player, Olympian, Rhodes Scholar and U.S. Congressman. We discuss the state of college athletics today.
Episode #28 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Chat With Mano Watsa, a Leading Basketball and Life Educator – Watsa is President of PGC Basketball, the largest education basketball camp in the world. We discuss problems in youth sports today.
Episode #27 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Kids’ Sports: How We Can Take Back the Game and Restore Quality Family Time In the Process – Linda Flanagan is author of “Take Back the Game: How Money and Mania Are Ruining Kids’ Sports and Why It Matters.” We discuss how commercialized and professionalized youth sports are hurting kids and their families.
Episode #26 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Fix Youth Sports? – John O’Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project and author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.”
Episode #25 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Physical Education Should Be a Critical Component of K-12 School Design – Michael Horn is co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- Reed Appears on Ralph Nader Radio Hour League of Fans’ sports policy director, Ken Reed, Ralph Nader and the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner discussed a variety of sports issues on Nader’s radio show as well as Reed’s updated book, How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan. Reed's book was released in paperback in February, and has a new introduction and several updated sections.
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Vanderbilt Sport & Society - On The Ball with Andrew Maraniss with guest Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director for League of Fans and author of How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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Ken Reed’s Author Page on Amazon