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Nick Saban not a fan of Big Ten's transfer rule proposal to NCAA


Feb. 05, 2020

For coaches that are already wary of recent changes in the NCAA transfer process, it wasn't exactly a reassuring development a when CBS Sports reported last Friday that the Big Ten Conference proposed legislation to the NCAA last October that would allow players in all sports to transfer once in their careers without having to sit out a year. Alabama football head coach Nick Saban certainly falls into the category of those who are less than thrilled over the thought of that becoming a reality.
Saban, during a guest appearance on ESPN2 Wednesday as part of the network's National Signing Day Coverage, voiced his concerns over unintended consequences that such legislation could have in the development of NCAA athletes if put into effect. Saban, during while on air, claimed that even looser transfer rules will only hurt athletes in developing perseverance that is critical for real-world success.
"Well, you know, I don't necessarily agree with that (proposal)," Saban said on ESPN2. "You know, I think that when you sort of make things ... sort of a permissive-type culture with players -- they make a commitment and now we're pretty permissive in whether they have to sort of have the perseverance to overcome adversity and do the things they need to do in order to be successful. And not just as football players, but as people and student-athletes and football players, which is what our goal is (at Alabama).
"So, now you allow people to sort of cut and run away from things that give them the best chance to develop this persistence. You know, I don't think anybody is really successful if they can't compete in the world, which always takes a level of persistence and ability to overcome adversity. I think we need to be careful about not making the rules where people don't learn how to compete in a very competitive world, if that makes any sense."
Currently, athletes in 20 NCAA sports are allowed a one-time transfer with immediate eligibility at their new institution. Football, men’s and women’s basketball, ice hockey, and baseball are the only sports exempt from that rule.
Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel is among those who believes it’s unfair to the athletes in those five sports that they don’t have the same level of freedom as their peers. Manuel wants to make sure that each player has at least one opportunity to change schools without any issues.
"We have five sports that are not allowed to transfer in this day and age. That is something we need to fix," Manuel said. "We need to give all young people the flexibility to transfer once. If they transfer a second time, there is no waiver."
Manuel isn't the only one in that camp, either, as the latest change proposed by the Big Ten seems to have support across the board from the conference’s athletic directors. The earliest this one-time transfer rule would come into effect would be 2021.
"I'm supportive of [the one-time exemption]," Ohio State AD Gene Smith told ESPN's Adam Rittenberg. "I think it was almost unanimous. At the end of the day, we need to provide those kids in those five sports the same opportunities as those in the other sports have. At the end of the day, everybody else has choice. Why can't they have a choice?"
If this proposal gets approved, it would be another step in giving student-athletes more power over their collegiate careers. In Oct. of 2018, the NCAA Transfer Portal was enacted. That allows athletes to put their name on the transfer market without having to notify their coaching staff first. Once a player’s name is in the portal, other schools can begin to contact him or her.
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