By Ken Reed
I recently wrote about the unfair way the University of Pittsburgh was treating basketball player Cameron Johnson.
Johnson, an honor student and recent Pitt grad was trying to transfer to the University of North Carolina to finish up his eligibility. The NCAA says grad transfers are legal but they leave it up to the athlete’s original school as to whether or not they will grant the athlete’s release.
Pitt was denying Johnson’s request and in the process looked silly, petty and vindictive. Fortunately, public pressure ultimately resulted in Pitt caving in and releasing Johnson. That’s a good thing.
But the most important thing is to pressure the NCAA to create transfer rules that are fair to athletes. It’s a social justice issue.
In a terrific analysis piece today, ESPN’s Jay Bilas methodically takes apart the ridiculous NCAA transfer policy and then concludes with a solution that’s right on.
Here are a few tidbits from Bilas’ outstanding piece:
• “This is about policy. The policy on transfers on the NCAA level, the conference level, and the institutional level is simply bad. It needs to be changed.”
• “If they (athletes) are just students, like any other student, how can any institution complain when a student decides to leave the school to pursue his or her education elsewhere? Whether on scholarship or not, there is no restriction for any non-athlete student leaving one school and attending another and being able to receive aid or participate in any extracurricular activity.”
• “Can you imagine a school trying to restrict the transfer of a scholarship music student or scholarship mathematician due to the investment the school has made in that student? It is similarly absurd to do the same to an unpaid, amateur student who just happens to be an athlete.”
• “The NCAA needs to overhaul its transfer rules and make them coherent and fair to the athlete. There is no legitimate reason for a school that a player is departing to have any say whatsoever in where a player goes after he or she leaves. It is simply wrong.”
• “Here is what needs to happen: The NCAA should pass rules that allow transfers to be immediately eligible to compete at another institution at the conclusion of that season’s competition. As long as there is no “in-season” transfer, all else should be fair game. Players transfer for myriad legitimate reasons, and as long as they are legal, none of those reasons are the NCAA’s business.”
Three cheers for Mr. Bilas! He has fully exposed the plantation mentality at the core of the NCAA transfer rules and outlined a clear, simple solution.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #32 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Prolific Author Joe Posnanski Joins the Show – Posnanski is one of America’s best sportswriters and has twice been named the best sports columnist in America by the Associated Press Sports Editors. We chat about his new book, “Why We Love Baseball,” his new Substack newsletter called Joe Blogs, and we cover topics including how baseball treats its fans, MLB’s numerous rule changes this past season, how the sport can become more fan-friendly, the greatness of Negro Leagues champion Buck O’Neil, and much more.
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Episode #31 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Foul Ball Safety Is Still an Important Issue at Ballparks – Our guests are Jordan Skopp, founder of FoulBallSafety.com and Greg Wilkowski, a Chicago based attorney. We discuss the historical problem of foul balls injuring fans and why some teams are still hesitant to put up protective netting in some minor league and college baseball parks.
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 member of The Drake Group, a college sports reform think tank.
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.
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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