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 #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.” We discuss overzealous adults in youth sports, the dangers of sport specialization, youth sports entrepreneurs and the profit-at-all-costs mindset, and the growing socio-economic gap in youth sports.
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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.
Episode #24 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Mental Health and Athletes: Ending the Stigma – Nathan Braaten and Taylor Ricci are the founders of Dam Worth It, a non-profit created to end the stigma around mental health at colleges and universities through sport, storytelling, and community creation.
Episode #23 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Olympian Benita Fitzgerald Mosley Talks Title IX, Youth Sports and the Olympics.
Episode #22 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Rethinking Sports Fandom with Author Craig Calcaterra – We discuss Calcaterra’s new book “Rethinking Fandom: How to Beat the Sports-Industrial Complex at Its Own Game” and explore new ways to be a fan.
Episode #21 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Chatting About a Broken Game With Baseball Writer Pedro Moura – Moura is a national baseball writer for Fox Sports. We discuss how and why the game of baseball is broken, what factors caused it, and offer a few thoughts on how to “fix” a great game.
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.
- League of Fans Sports Policy Director Ken Reed quoted in Washington Post column titled "What happened to P.E.? It’s losing ground in our push for academic improvement," by Jay Mathews
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.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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