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

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 complicated than 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.

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