To a BBN member, there was many highlights for Kentucky Wildcats basketball this season. Many of them was provided by senior strongman Reid Travis, who found his way to Lexington via the NCAA graduate transfer rule from Stanford.
And right on cue, enter the NCAA, that righteous institution that always seems to want to change rules when it seems like their players or coaches might be getting a touch of freedom.
OK, I’ll get back on topic.
In two weeks, the NCAA’s primary legislative body, the Division I Council, will vote on a measure that could severely restrict graduate transfers, according to The New York Times. The proposed rule change would require that colleges accepting graduate transfers be docked a scholarship the next year if the transfer does not earn his secondary degree within a year.
This proposal, which could go into effect as soon as Aug. 1, would apply to only three sports — football, women’s basketball and men’s basketball — but appears particularly aimed at men’s basketball.
Football teams, with 85 scholarships, are more capable of absorbing the loss of a single scholarship than a men’s basketball squad, which has 13. And there are roughly twice as many graduate transfers each year in men’s basketball as in women’s basketball.
This season, 124 players used the graduate transfer to move to different schools, including Travis. Surprisingly enough though, you would be shocked, shocked I say, at the college coach who wanted this rule to be adjusted to allow the school the ability to be protected scholarship-wise and make sure the player honors their commitment to the university.
Paging John Calipari, please.
The rule itself seems to have come straight from the mouth of the Kentucky coach, who suggested to ESPN in 2016 — long before the committee began its work — that “if the kid gets his grad degree in one year, fine; if he doesn’t, you’ve got to use the scholarship for two years.”
The concept of schools just bringing in “hired guns” to shore up roster weaknesses is there no doubt. While the concept of transferring is prevalent- nearly 40 percent of Division I men’s basketball players who arrive from high school will transfer by the end of their sophomore year- the idea that it’s going away by adding more rules isn’t going to happen.
Some would argue that changing the graduate transfer rule to affect the scholarship limits of its schools would affect its top-tier programs, i.e. Kentucky, the truth is, um. no.
While most schools use up their allotted scholarships each season, Kentucky under Calipari rarely uses every scholarship up. Kentucky has gone into the regular season with 2-3 open scholarships in several seasons under Calipari.
So, if the NCAA decides to pass the rule, Kentucky would still be in position to use the graduate transfer and not cause undue stress and harm to the roster, whereas other big school who routinely use every scholarship will be weary of pursuing grad transfers.
Once again, the NCAA passes a rule, and, once again, Kentucky is still in position to be successful while resting squarely within NCAA guidelines.
Now, about that lifetime contract and ambassadorship for Cal?