Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE
On Thursday, the California Senate made waves, by passing the Student Athlete Bill of Rights that would protect athletes at USC, UCLA, Stanford and Cal. We’ve been looking at the controversial legislation over the last week, and today we’ll discuss how it pertains to transfers, as the bill gives rights to transferring players that were previously tripped up by red tape, including a restriction of destination.
Clause 1.H of the bill brings transfers to the forefront for the first time in the bill, prohibiting schools from punishing transferring student athletes, but the most interesting clause by far is Clause 2.D, which reads as so:
"(d) An athletic program shall promptly approve a student athlete’s written request to transfer to another institution of higher education without actively or passively imposing any restrictions or conditions. Implementation of this subdivision by an institution of higher education shall include, but not necessarily be limited to, both of the following: (1) Granting other institutions of higher education permission to contact the student athlete. (2) Waiving residency requirements, as permitted by athletic association rules."
The bill lets transfers freely able to transfer in and out of schools would be a big victory for the rights of players, essentially creating free agency. While transfers would still be required to sit out a year under normal circumstances, immediate approval allows intra-conference transfers, thus making it possible for a player to transfer from USC to UCLA and vice versa.
It creates a tremendous amount of pressure on coaches, as players not getting playing time or the attention they feel they deserve could start looking for greener pastures without worrying about where to look. For a conference with so many recruiting battles in all sports, so many of the Pac-12 players receive offers from multiple schools in the conference, and without requirements that would make them look outside of the conference to transfer, it wouldn’t be hard to rekindle relationships with the coaches they had while getting recruited.
Plus, with coaches leaving from one school to another, a mass exodus is suddenly plausible. Take Tosh Lupoi for example. Recruit and “Cal lock” Shaq Thompson followed him from Cal to Washington, even though Lupoi doesn’t coach the secondary. Should a coach like Lupoi depart within the conference, or anywhere for that matter, other than sitting out a year, enrolled players wouldn’t have any hurdles to cross to follow their beloved coach.
Also, in addition to the relationships built up with players and coaches, fraternization among players could lead to transfers. So many players in the Los Angeles area are friends off the field, and with transfers within the conference allowed, transfers in theory could take place much sooner, as players talk to one another, regardless of school. The only thing stopping a Miami Heat-type group teaming up, is the requirement to sit out a season.
While immediate approval transfers could keep coaches up at night, for players, it’s plenty of insurance. Considering that a big number of Pac-12 players hail from Los Angeles, the omission of an NCAA waiver to transfer not only immediately, but in general given a family emergency, a la Josh Shaw, gives plenty of peace of mind for Angelenos that go on to play in the Bay Area.
While the bill passed the senate on Thursday, there’s still plenty of progress, as the General Assembly is the next forum for the bill.