Crean weighs in on graduate transfer discussion

  • 06/15/2016 8:33 am in

It’s been called an “epidemic” by Tom Izzo and it’s also been called “free agency” by Chris Collins and was a hot topic of discussion at last month’s Big Ten coaches meetings in Chicago.

Transfers in college basketball continue to be prevalent, but as Tom Crean sees it, there’s no clear cut answer to how each situation should be handled.

Some coaches, like Nebraska’s Tim Miles, have ludicrously called for all transfers to sit out a season, regardless of circumstances. Crean, however, speaking at Huber’s Winery earlier this month, said the issue is complicated for a variety of reasons.

Indiana has taken three graduate transfers under Crean: Evan Gordon, Nick Zeisloft and Max Bielfeldt and each situation was different. Here’s Crean, verbatim, on graduate transfers in college basketball:

“Well, it’s complicated. I think some that are speaking out about it are not looking at the entire picture on it. I think that, to me personally, the hardest thing is what it does to the low and mid-major schools because when you look around, it’s like, how is a low or mid-major school going to redshirt somebody? How are they going to try to get somebody graduated in three years? I think that’s going to be really, really hard, in the sense that, that’s who it is really hurting.

“I think there’s two different cases. I don’t know how you penalize Max Bielfeldt because he wasn’t given a scholarship back to the program he was at (Michigan). My belief is simple: If you don’t want to lose somebody and you want them to stay but yet they want to leave, I’m not sure that being automatically eligible somewhere is the best way to do it.

“But if you don’t offer somebody back a scholarship, much like a case like Max, I don’t know you hold them back from being eligible somewhere, including the league. If I didn’t want to lose you, and you wanted to transfer within the league, I don’t think you should be eligible to go inside of the league.

“But if I don’t want you back, OK, then I think all bets are off. How can I have any justification of holding you back? So that to me, it’s not as easy as some are making it seem. And it’s not as easy as saying, ‘OK, let’s just make them sit out a year, then they can have the next year to play.’

“That’s easy for the one you don’t want to lose, it’s really hard for the one you’re not willing to keep. That’s getting lost in the translation a little bit. But again as a nutshell, if we came down with it and said, ‘OK, they have to sit out and that would help the low and mid-major programs,’ I’d be all for that. Because I’ve got friends all across the country and so does every other coach that are losing players that are going to affect their job.

“You don’t have to look very far. Damion Lee was a heck of a get for Louisville, but that did nothing for Bruiser Flint’s job status. So in the sense of, the rules are the rules. Damion Lee did a great job, but Bruiser Flint at the end of the day didn’t have his best player back.

“And that’s the way the rules are right now. Personally, I’d love to see that change, but not to the point where it hurts somebody that’s not welcome back at their school. That’s a double penalty. Why would we do that?”

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  • unclekerfuffle

    I realize that at most schools athletic scholarships are a year-to-year thing. Although I guess it comes down to the spirit of the scholarship offer.

    Assuming the student-athlete remains academically eligible, contributes positively to the team and stays out of trouble, then does the scholarship offer come with the implication that the scholarship is good for four years (more for red shirts) or is it good until the completion of an undergraduate degree? Both implications have merit.

    I agree with CTC that it’s not a problem with a simple one-size-fits-all solution.

  • sarge

    I agree with him as well. Fred Glass said something very similar too. If you aren’t going to pay these guys, at least make it easy for them to get an education. Max was able to make the best of his situation last year, regardless of how he played on the court. Isn’t that what collegiate sports are all about, the best thing for the student? If you don’t want to cater to them in terms of the eligibility and scholarship, what comes next? Would you have kids like Emmanuel Mudiay start going overseas to collect a check instead of pursuing an education and staying at home? We should preserve the few rights that the student athletes have, and I don’t think there is a simple solution either.

  • TomJameson

    I believe all basketball scholarships are year-to-year. IU is different only in the way that they “guarantee” a 4 year scholarship, but not necessarily 4 years playing basketball. IF a player’s basketball scholly was taken, he would still get the remainder of the 4 years as a scholastic scholarship. Not sure of who pays, but probably by the boosters.

    Talking about 5th-year transfers … they should be able to go anywhere they want and play. How are you going to make them sit out a year first? That would make them playing as a 6th year senior … really?? six years??

    Any other transfer should have to sit out a year, unless the school doesn’t want them. If the school releases them, they should be able to play right away. Whether they play in the league or not is another question. Maybe getting special dispensation should be required in a case-by-case basis. Not sure about that one.

  • HardRockHoosier

    See that’s it.. You have a very good point. If the school is willing to release them.. let them go and play wherever or whenever they want. So as in the case of MB where U of M didn’t give MB another scholarship year, let them release him and he can go wherever he wants. Likewise, even if he an undergraduate and ‘wants out’, if the school is willing to release him, he should be able to go and play right away. If they aren’t, then he sits out the customary year just like it is right now.

  • inLinE6

    I don’t think player still gets “scholastic scholarship” if its athletic scholarship is taken. Only when the player endures a medical hardship and is granted a waiver to finish his degree at no cost, and not taking the roster spot.

  • Outoftheloop

    Not how it works. IU cannot take away the basketball scholarship and then give that same kid an “academic” scholarship. The kid could apply for the academic scholarship on the same basis as every other student at IU. However, if the X-Basketball player is awarded that scholarship, and 100 regular students are not, you will see an investigation, because it looks corrupt.

  • Outoftheloop

    I agree.

  • Outoftheloop

    If the player has earned his degree, has no legal or school issues, has eligibility left, and wants to go to a new school, then let him, no sitting out period! It IS that simple!

  • ForeverIU

    If a player decides to leave he should not have to sit out for a year under any circumstance. A system that punishes a player for leaving on his own terms is an unfair and cynical system that is designed to favor those with greater power in the hierarchy.

  • TomJameson

    It’s not really an academic scholarship, I just don’t know how it is officially termed. I do know it doesn’t count against any other “normal” scholarships, so those 100 regular students would not be affected. It’s the IU bill of rights. I am fairly certain that the athletic scholarship is guaranteed in some manner, and I was thinking it was paid by a booster fund.

  • TomJameson

    Here’s a portions of the “IU student-athlete bill of rights”. One thing to note is that it is invalid in the case of a student transfer, but if IU “pulled” the athletic scholarship, the bill of rights would kick in. The student wouldn’t be a member of the team anymore, but could still stay at IU for a full-boat ride to an undergraduate degree.

    “A central feature of the Bill of Rights is the Lifetime Degree Guarantee. Under the “Hoosiers for Life” program, Indiana University will pay the tuition (plus books and fees) for an IU undergraduate degree for any scholarship student-athlete who leaves school early to tend to a family emergency, pursue a professional athletics career, or for any other reason. This program is open to any former student-athlete who was eligible for at least two seasons, left IU in good standing, did not transfer, and is readmitted under university rules.”

  • Outoftheloop

    Just wrong! No such special scholarship exists! So anything that you dream up DOES affect those 100 other students!

  • Outoftheloop

    How does this work for sports with partial scholarships, baseball, swimming, etc.?

  • Bill Graham

    In all fairness. Most (extra emphasis on ‘most’) grad transfers are transfering due to academic not athletic reasons. Guys like Max and Evan arent the difference between titles and early exits. I’m okay with this rule. The rule that needs reconstructing is the 1 and done rule. Lets see UK and Duke actually recruit players for longevity… that might shine a light on the current state of NCAA basketball.

  • RDD#76

    Common that makes to much sense and will be to hard for the NCAA to understand.

  • BT

    I’m of the opinion that if a player has to sit out a year to transfer, a head coach should have to sit out a year if he/she accepts a new job.

  • Bill Graham

    I like your 6 year comment…Reminds me of guys that played for 10+ years in college like Greg Paulus and Aaron Craft………..Not to mention guys like Tracy Abrams (who will be playing for Illinois again in his 12th year) Abrams actually played against us when we had Maurice Creek and Tom Pritchard……….and Tom Coverdale…………..and AJ Guyton…………and….. Steve Alford……Actually I think Tracy Abrams has grandchildren at Illinois now.

  • Outoftheloop

    Do I correctly sense mocking?

  • TomJameson

    I think you’re reading a little too much into it Loop. The student has to leave for “any reason”, but it doesn’t state a length of time even in a general way. And the re-admittance is what the bill of rights is all about. Don’t think they have to go through the entire admittance process again. I’m sure that they will/do work things out for the student, this bill of rights is something most (if not all) schools do not have, other than at IU.

    IU is leading the way for student/athlete rights, but let’s not forget that the university has some “rights” also.

  • TomJameson

    Guess you’re sensing a “little” sarcasm. 🙂

  • E Foy McNaughton

    I agree with Tom on this one – and quite frankly, I think a lot of people like to complain for the sake of complaining.
    Oh, there are too many transfers and we need to stop it! Please, if my paralegal wants to quit her job tomorrow and go somewhere else – its a free country and go find your happy. College basketball is a business. The only difference being that the kids don’t get paid for all their hard work and dedication to the school that profits wildly (if I recall correctly IU is the 3rd most profitable). So – if a kid wants to leave, let them. If that is inconvenient because you have to replace them, its a cost of doing business and get over it.
    Rant complete.

  • Outoftheloop

    I am just reading the words. “Leave school” means just that. It could be for 1 semester, or 6 years, but you must leave school, not continue! “Re-Admit” means just that. Your “new” application should be “current” based on your previous application materials after 1-2 semesters. But probably not current after 3-4 years (like for a pro baseball career that was short). What you did for the time you were not in school would also matter (working with refugees versus serving time for drug dealing). Institutions always “work things out” for their interests as their first priority!

  • Outoftheloop

    I had a good smile from it!

  • So if a player isn’t recruited out of high school by a top-tier program, goes to a middle-tier school and blows up, then gets offers from a top-tier school, he should be able to pack up and leave on a whim? He has no commitment whatsoever to the program that brought him in and developed him?

  • ForeverIU

    Yes, if he does not feel the commitment, then he should be free to go with sitting out a year. You are talking about a minority of players. And his spot will be filled by a player with just the opposite experience.

  • Personally, I’m torn. Just wanted to toss out the scenario for explicit consideration.

  • ForeverIU

    To me it’s largely a matter of parity. The logic that a university “releasing” a player should be met with less resistance than a player essentially releasing himself does not seem right.

  • Sure, parity matters. Personally, I’d probably (strong emphasis there) say that both sides should be assumed to have a commitment. It’s a legal matter, certainly, and I’d like to see it clarified and codified. If it’s no commitment, fine, then it should go in both directions, absolutely.

  • TomJameson

    I just think that you’re putting a lot of opinion in what you’re saying. I’m not going to “read into” what it actually says.