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SEC Coaches’ Complaints on Waivers Ring Hollow

At SEC Basketball Media Days, coaches sounded off about the growth of NCAA transfer waivers, which in football and basketball (among other sports) are the most likely way a student-athlete can play without spending a year in residence. Here is Tennessee head coach Cuonzo Martin:

Martin, having come to UT from mid-major Missouri State, takes exception with the graduate transfer rule. In his old world, if a player were good enough to lead his team, he was likely good enough to leave his team.

“It’s not fair to the mid-majors,” he said, explaining that those programs didn’t see the fruits of player development.

Martin takes issue with the graduate transfer rule. Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings sees problems with hardship waivers. Also included was the APR-based waiver that allowed Alex Oriakhi to transfer and play immediately at Missouri due to UConn’s postseason ban.

The article dances around three points without mentioning any of them. First, all of these waivers are based on different rules and are administered differently. They have different documentation standards and different levels of scrutiny when submitted to the NCAA. Some are exceptions schools apply themselves. To lump them all together and label the problem as “inconsistent waivers” ignores this.

Second, coaches generally do not like waivers until they need one. The idea of saying all athletes must sit out, every time, no exceptions sounds great until you are the coach who has the transfer who must care for a ailing parent or who graduated but had his scholarship cut by his former team. Everyone wants waivers gone … except the waiver they need.

Finally, coaches have tools to restrict or slow down transfers. Permission to contact still must be granted. Letters of support for waivers can be withheld. And in the case of the graduate transfer exception, a release from the previous school is required. What coaches want more than restricted waivers. What they really want is to avoid having to be the bad guy in the waiver process.

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