Contemplating the college transfer issue

College transfers have increased dramatically over the last 15 years, to the point where some feel that excitement for transfers now eclipses a school’s desire to get the best freshmen.

The public is keenly interested in who is transferring where. I saw it for myself the last ten days, as the news updates I posted about soon-to-be-former Tar Heel Diamond DeShields sent my page views through the roof.

Nationally, 8.2 percent of female basketball players transferred at the end of the 2010-2011 season. It is probably at least the same, if not higher today.

It’s hard to pinpoint what is at the heart of the transfer increase, as most stories written about the issue center around male players.

One recent study found Division I basketball-playing men are less trusting of their coaches than athletes in any other sport.

Sports Illustrated has deemed the trend “up-transferring,” where a ball player goes from a mid-major college to a major.

On the women’s side, I don’t particularly notice transfers “upward.” In fact, there have been quite a few transfers this spring that have been the reverse, where a player from a BCS school leaves for a smaller college.

And it would be interesting to have the same study on coach trust done for female players. I doubt, however, that women would be found to be as distrusting of their coaches as men are. I’ve talked to a lot of coaches and a lot of players, and I just don’t see it. There is much less money in women’s basketball, anyway.

I have a feeling it’s one of two things – and in some cases it may be both.

1. The recruiting process for kids today can begin as early as middle school. Some young people verbally commit before they enter high school. Coaches become sales people to athletes, putting on their best faces and rolling out the red carpet for visits. Sometimes when a player arrives as a freshman, the actual reality of the situation isn’t the way it was presented. Promises are sometimes broken. Athletes bail.

2. For other athletes, nothing is overtly “wrong,” but they aren’t satisfied for whatever reason. And like the world in general – and even more so, young people – they are quick to give up. They aren’t willing to “stick it out” as their elders probably would have, to see if things could work out. What they are willing to do is sit out a year so they can transfer to their new school

Given the examples shown to athletes, I can’t completely blame them. College administrations are quick to get rid of coaches within a few years who don’t produce immediate results – even when they start with scraps and crumbs. The college coach turnover rate is so ridiculous that unless a coach has just signed a multi-year contract extension, there is no guarantee that she/he will be there through a recruit’s senior year.

Be prepared for the college transfer rate to continue at a brisk clip. It won’t be slowing down any time soon.

1 COMMENT

  1. Typically thought-provoking, my friend.
    Re. male transfers moving to a higher level: a by-product of so many players leaving school early to go pro, wouldn't you think?
    It's more logical for a player to go someplace where there's more opportunity to actually play — a lower level of competition.
    I recall there being rumors of Kia Stokes looking to transfer after the 2013 T'ment, until her Dad unequivocally shot them down. Good parent!!!

    Re. the phenomenon itself: The kids are conditioned to this type of knee-jerk mobility, which all too often seems to be the norm in youth ball. (Policies and procedures often seem to encourage competitvely-motivated player movement, as well.)

    Finally, I agree that this mindset extends far beyond the gym or ballfield.

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