Lessons From Athletes Who Transfer Colleges

the grass isn't always greenerThe rate of athletes transferring colleges is growing every year. I get a lot of questions from recruits and parents about what their options are and many times, athletes have no choice but to lose a year of eligibility.

This article is for athletes and parents of athletes who are trying to identify the right school. My goal is to give you some insight into why athletes are transferring so much, with the hope you can avoid these problems by doing a little more homework when deciding on a college.

You are choosing a school not a sports team

As an athlete you have the added pressure of deciding on a team and coach you want to play for as well as a university. With so much time going into finding an opportunity to play sports, it is easy to forget you need to be considering the school as well. A lot of athletes who are upset with the school they are at is because they didn’t take enough time to get to know the school first. They spent all of their time focused on the athletics associated with the school, they didn’t realize they wouldn’t like living on the campus, in that town or taking classes there.

The solution is to visit a campus and talk to regular students, not just other athletes. Find out where students typically live and what the town is like. See if you can sit in on classes and maybe talk to a professor who teaches a subject you are interested. Yes, you are probably going to have to be seen walking on campus with your parents, but that perceived embarrassment is a small price to pay compared to transferring and losing a year of eligibility.

You will have things you don’t like

Too many times athletes are transferring or leaving because they don’t like something that is more or less just part of leaving home and going to college. Despite what you see on ESPN, athletes don’t all live in luxury dorms and have access to all you can eat gourmet food. Gross dorm rooms, smelly roommates, loud neighbors, bad professors, and less than five star training facilities are the norm for a lot of colleges. Sometimes even more serious things can happen like break-ins or things getting stolen. Remember, sometimes bad things happen in life and college is life. By no means should you stay in a dangerous situation, but don’t think that leaving a school will fix something like a less than perfect living situation.

As a parent, before your athlete decides to leave a school, make sure you think long and hard about the real reason they are leaving. I’ve seen a lot of athletes leave schools because they just had difficulty adjusting to life away from home. At some point your athlete is going to have a bad day, week or down month, and many times that is part of the adjustment. Ultimately, it is going to be your call on what type of situation is acceptable or not, but several times athletes I’ve talked with simply needed to stick it out a couple more weeks and ended up having a great college experience.

If you are going to leave, you need the coach on your side

My final piece of advice regarding transfers is, if you are committed to leaving the school, you are going to want the coach on your side. Understand that if you are going to leave the program unexpectedly and not give them any warning, they are going to do a little as possible to help you. If you are on the team and especially if you are a scholarship athlete, the coach is committed to keeping you with the team. Talk to them about the problems you are having, show them you are willing to try and make it work. If you still want to leave after trying to make it work, the coach is going to be much more willing to help.

Leaving a school is a very difficult process and having the difficult conversations with coaches is a hard thing to do, but that’s what adulthood is about. No coach expects every athlete to stay with their program 100% of the time, but they do expect you to talk to them if you are having a problem.

Hopefully this will give some perspective on the problems you are facing or help you make the right choice when choosing a college. If you have more questions, leave them in the comments below or contact me on Google+ (my email is available there).

It Doesn’t Always Happen This Way: A Top Football Player’s Great Transfer Experience

It Doesn't Always Happen This Way: A Top Football Player's Great Transfer Experiance
Image from the Times-Union

We have talked in the past about how the transfer process doesn’t always go smoothly for athletes and about how it’s much more complicatedthan athletes expect. But sometimes athletes graduate from college with a degree prior to using all of their eligibility. Some athletes in this situation need to transfer to another school to earn a graduate degree, and they are able to finish out their playing career at a school that offers they graduate degree they seek.

This year, Paul Layton, the University of Albany punter, finds himself in this exact position. Prior to the beginning of the season, Layton approached Albany’s head coach, Bob Ford, to discuss transferring to a FBS school (Division IA; Albany is a Division IAA or FCS school). The problem for Layton? To transfer from an NCAA division I school  or a NCAA division II school all athletes must obtain a written permission-to-contact release form from their current athletic department (division III schools require a self-release form).

Just Asking For a Release Form Can Cause Problems For Athletes

Layton himself says he considered transferring for months prior to discussing it with Ford because he was nervous about having the conversation with his coach. If a coach says no to an athlete’s request then they cannot talk to any other coach, and they may have created a rift between them and their current coach. Coaches can also pick and choose which conferences and schools an athlete may not transfer to.

Neither of these problems will affect Layton. Layton wants to transfer from Albany for two reasons: because of a specific MBA degree he wants to study; and he wants a chance to play for a school in a BCS automatic qualifying conference. These reasons were sufficient enough for Coach Ford to not only grant a waiver, but to also help Layton find an opportunity. Ford has the University of Albany coaching staff calling recruiting coordinators at other schools to help Layton find a transfer opportunity.

Not every coach will so easily embrace the prospect of such a good player leaving their team, but Ford has been with Albany for over 4 decades, and he knows that the future of his student-athletes trumps everything. Plus, it’s not a complete loss for Ford; the positive press can only help bring more recruits to Albany’s program. The last thing a coach needs are negative headlines about an athlete trying to transfer.

The Most Important Lesson From Paul Layton’s Situation

This quote from the CBS Sports article perfectly summarizes the work that goes into finding a transfer opportunity (and especially an initial college opportunity):

“Layton has spent months researching MBA programs as well as depth charts, looking for FBS teams that have senior punters in 2012.”

Every single recruit with an interest in attending college needs to research colleges like Layton. Not all schools offer the academic program you are looking for; not all schools have a need for the position you play. Athletes who have a mindset of “I’ll study any subject at any school just to have the opportunity to play” are ultimately doing a disservice to themselves, and they are hurting their chances at finding a playing opportunity. If an athlete wants success in recruiting, it is their job to identify the schools that fit their needs.

Get started researching schools on our free Recruiting Database!

Do you have any questions about researching colleges? Just ask us in the comments section below, or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+!

Four Things You Must Know Before You Transfer

High school athletes who want to get recruited sometimes jump on the first offer or opportunity they come across, but hidden complexities in the NCAA transfer process make it more difficult to transfer than most athletes expect.

Nerman Delic, a defensive tackle at Kentucky, illustrates why the transfer process requires thought before action. Delic recently transferred from Kentucky, an FBS school, to Georgia State, an FCS school. Typically when an athlete

Four Things You Must Know Before You Transfer
Image from 247 Sports

transfers from an FBS to an FCS school they are not required to sit out a year. This situation is slightly different though because Georgia State is set to move into the FBS next year; because of this, the NCAA told Delic he must sit out a year of competition. The NCAA does not have to comment or explain why they decide to accept or deny a transfer waiver.

Ultimately, Delic is happy with his decision because he will have two years of eligibility left and he can finish out his playing career about an hour from where he grew up; but, it shows how what seems like a relatively straight-forward process can become more challenging than expected.

If you are thinking about transferring or you are attending a school with the sole purpose of transferring, there are some things we think you should consider.

Make Good Choices Early

Sometimes transferring is necessary, but you can increase your chances of avoiding it by starting your recruiting early. Figure out what schools are best for you. Don’t just window shop by school name. Learn about class sizes, majors, academic support, the training facilities, and visit as many campuses as you can. The better fit a college is for you, the more likely it is you end up graduating from there.

Think About the Consequences of Transferring

How much eligibility do you have left? Is it worth it to sit out a year? Nermin Delic doesn’t mind having to sit out a year to play for a couple years near his hometown. How would that decision affect you? If you are holding on to your valuable years of eligibility and don’t want to lose any, transferring might not be a good option for you.

Know the Transfer Rules Before Entering College

If you are attending a school with the sole purpose of transferring, you are better off looking at a junior college or an NAIA school. It is much easier to transfer from one of these schools to an NCAA division I or II school than it is to go from an NCAA school to another NCAA school.

Fully Evaluate Your Situation Before Trying to Transfer

If you are transferring from an NCAA division I or II school then you will need a waiver from your athletic department just to discuss transfer options with other coaches. If a coach finds out that you have contacted them without a waiver, then they will not continue to speak with you (and if they do then it’s a violation).

Asking your athletic department for a waiver can create a rift between you and a coach, which can lead to you losing playing time if you decide not to transfer. You are not allowed to constantly look for opportunities while continuing to play, which creates a situation where an athlete must choose to transfer or stay, likely before they even know what opportunities are available.

Do you have any questions about the transfer process? Just leave your question in the comments section below, or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+!

Georgia Coach Mark Richt Shows Junior College Can Get You Recruited

Georgia Coach Mark Richt Shows Junior College Can Get You Recruited
Atlanta Journal Constitution

Junior college can help athletes in all sports get a little more experience prior to attending a four-year school. For some athletes in certain sports, like football and to some extent basketball, junior college can be a necessary stepping stone to playing in the NCAA.

Some Coaches Really Like Junior College Athletes

Georgia football coach Mark Richt recently went on record discussing his proclivity for recruiting junior college athletes.Georgia’s recruiting class this year consists of 28 athletes, four of them being junior college transfers. Junior college transfers can help a program out in several ways; according to Richt, it gives depth to your recruiting class by breaking up the ages of incoming athletes. It also allows coaches to upgrade positions immediately by bringing in athletes that are ready to play much sooner than incoming freshmen. Obviously there are still plenty of freshman athletes that come in and help programs win immediately, but junior college transfers are usually more mature.

Junior College Shouldn’t be Everyone’s First Option

However, junior college shouldn’t necessarily be an athlete’s first choice when thinking about recruiting in high school; there are some negatives to trying to get recruited out of junior college. In fact, Richt has a clause in his contract that states he must keep his recruiting of junior college players to a minimum- meaning some coaches are restricted in actually recruiting junior college athletes. Schools don’t want to get stuck in cycles of recruiting only junior college athletes because they usually only have two years of eligibility left, sometimes three. If it comes down to two athletes with equal athletic ability, one a junior college athlete and the other a high school senior, the college coach will likely choose the high school senior over the junior college transfer, because the senior has more eligibility left.

What You Need to Know to Transfer

If you are a junior college student, or a high school athlete considering junior college, you should look at our Junior College Transfer page. Getting recruited from a junior college is not always easy, but the same goes for recruiting in general. Knowing the landscape of junior college recruiting before you decide to attend a junior college will help you find the best opportunity possible to continue your athletic and academic career.

Do you have any questions about what it takes to attend junior college or to transfer to a four year school? Let us know in the comments section below, or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+!

What Happens to Athletes When a School Cuts a Sport?

What Happens to Athletes When a School Cuts a Sport?
Image from collegiatewaterpolo.com

The University of Maryland recently announced that they will cut seven sports teams from competition for the 2012-2013 school year. In the past, we have written about how funding for college sports may have a different impact on your recruiting, but this story goes even deeper to highlight the issues around money behind college sports.

Maryland will cut women’s water polo, swimming and diving, and aerobics and tumbling; and men’s tennis, indoor track, cross country, and swimming and diving. All teams were given a warning back in November that their programs would be on the chopping block if they were not able to raise enough money to keep their teams afloat. Out of the eight teams that were notified, only men’s outdoor track could raise enough money to field a team next season (and they still face challenges to keep the program running beyond next year). The reason Maryland can’t afford to keep these programs competitive is due to a drop off in basketball ticket sales, and a struggling football program.

What Happens When a School Cuts a Program?

When an NCAA Division I or II athlete wants to transfer, they must first obtain written permission from their school’s athletic director before they are allowed to speak with coaches at other schools, regardless of who initiates contact.

When a school plans on cutting a sport, athletes are notified that they can transfer to another college without restriction. They are not required to sit out a year of competition- meaning they are immediately eligible for scholarship money and to compete at a new institution. To make the situation easier for the athletes, athletic departments usually send a notice to compliance offices at other schools to notify them that the sport is being cut and all athletes at their institution are eligible for transfer.

The Benefit of Exploring Multiple Schools During the Recruiting Process

Remember all the times we’ve said that it’s so important to explore multiple schools? Well, this is a great example of a time where that can come back to help you (besides, obviously, when you are initially searching for schools). If you spent a good amount of time building relationships with coaches and exploring multiple opportunities, odds are some of the coaches you spoke with will remember you. This is a great place to start searching for a transfer if your program gets cut. Remember what coaches you spoke to when you were looking for a scholarship in high school, and start by contacting those coaches first. You should also reach out to coaches within your region or conference because they will be likely to know who you are already.

Do you have any questions about why schools cut programs, or what to do if your program is going to be cut? Just leave us a comment in the comments section below, or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+!