By Ken Reed
I want to be the first member of the Cam Johnson Fan Club.
Johnson is a former University of Pittsburgh basketball player who is trying to transfer to the University of North Carolina to play his final two years of eligibility. He graduated from Pitt in three years, summa cum laude, with 3.9 GPA.
According to NCAA bylaws, Johnson should be allowed to transfer and play immediately for any NCAA school as a graduate student. However, for some reason, the NCAA also allows schools and conferences to set their own policies for graduate transfers.
As such, Pitt decided that Johnson could transfer to a conference member school but had to sit out a year before becoming eligible to play.
Johnson is a Pitt graduate and gave three years to the Pitt program. Shouldn’t a graduate be allowed to transfer where he wants?
This is the NCAA plantation mentality at work again. Here’s how it works: coaches and athletic directors are allowed to break their contracts and take jobs at any school of their choice. Athletes, whose compensation is limited to a scholarship — despite pulling in millions in revenue to pay the salaries of coaches and athletic directors — are only allowed to go to another university if their school says they can. If their original school wants to play the role of jerk and prevent an athlete’s transfer — to all NCAA schools or only certain schools they designate — they can.
Universities simply have too much power over athletes. College kids don’t have the protection of unions or agents to argue on their behalf like professional athletes do. They’re left to fight the NCAA Machine on their own.
This whole scenario stinks. In Johnson’s case, he was recruited to Pitt by former coach Jamie Dixon, who left shortly thereafter to take the job at TCU. Kevin Stallings left his players at Vanderbilt to take the job at Pitt. Pitt’s athletic director also left during Johnson’s time at Pitt to go to Oregon State. Nevertheless, Pitt wants to hold Johnson hostage.
As Johnson wrote in a letter he released publicly this week:
“As a student-athlete, who is not a paid employee of the school, and a graduate, shouldn’t I be granted the same freedom of movement?”
Where’s the justice in this system?
Hopefully, public pressure will force Pitt to change this unfair decision.
Just last week, public pressure on Kansas State’s athletic department forced head football coach Bill Snyder to change his mind regarding his decision to not allow wide receiver Corey Sutton to transfer anywhere, and I mean anywhere. Snyder banned Sutton from transferring to all FBS (Division I), FCS and Division II schools. After heavy criticism, Snyder changed his tune and allowed Sutton to freely transfer.
It shouldn’t take heavy public criticism to change these decisions. This is a deeply flawed system that needs to be fixed.
— 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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