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 #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.
Follow on Facebook: @SportsForumPodcast
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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