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 #10 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: An Issues Discussion With Paul Dolan – Dolan is the Cleveland Indians Owner and CEO. He discusses the use of Native American names and logos by sports teams and the decisions to drop the Chief Wahoo logo and the upcoming change to the team name. Other baseball topics include health and safety, possible MLB rule changes and youth participation in the sport.
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Episode #9 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports Issues With Ralph Nader – Nader is a consumer advocate and was named one of the “100 Most Influential Americans of the 20th Century” by Time magazine. He is the founder of League of Fans.
Episode #8 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Save College Sports From Overcommercialization and Professionalization? – The guest is Dr. David Ridpath, a sports business professor and past president of the Drake Group
Episode #7 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Brain Trauma and CTE Risk in Sports With Dr. Ann McKee – Dr. McKee works in the field of neuropathology and has demonstrated that “mild” repetitive head trauma can provoke chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a devastating neurodegenerative disease.
Episode #6 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Need for Quality Physical Education in Our Schools is Greater Than Ever – The guest is Clayton Ellis, one of our nation’s leading advocates for getting our young people to be more physically active.
Episode #5 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Youth Sports with Positive Coaching Alliance Founder Jim Thompson – Thompson started Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) in 1998 to help create a movement to transform the culture of youth sports from “win-at-all-costs” to a positive, character-building experience.
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.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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.
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