Everything that goes on in the realm of college sports is treated like a business except how the players are dealt with. Why? Well, there has been a long standing argument by the NCAA that has to deal with upholding some wildly ineffective meaning of the word amateurism. Universities have so much power at their disposal that they are starting to wield it in the most bitter, abusive ways. This has recently been highlighted by the Vanderbilt Commodores blocking Sheldon Jeter‘s transfer to the Pittsburgh Panthers because, well, that is why.
Make sense? Of course not. Kevin Stallings, Vandy head coach, didn’t have Pittsburgh on his list of schools that Jeter could not transfer to. Still he felt the need to block Jeter’s desire to go play at a school outside of the SEC, a slew of miles away and one that would likely have zero factor on Vanderbilt’s success during Jeter’s career. Instead, the move may have been made because Jeter did not see Stallings face to face to discuss the transfer. Because, as we all know, basketball coaches are really swell at letting their players know to their face that they would be leaving for another program, for more money.
Coaches have the right to move from one program to another without penalty. If they were to have one solid season and another school comes calling with more money, as well as being a higher profile gig, lookout as their bags would be packed quicker than quick. Players, however, have to sit out a year if they want to transfer from a program. Even if the reason they came to the school — a coach — left for a better opportunity, the player is left at the program to suffer through the aftershocks of a coaching change.
There is certainly an argument for blocking transfers. It could help if a free agency like feel happened in college sports. But blocking a transfer just because? Yeah, that is not really something the NCAA should allow. Stallings didn’t have Pittsburgh on his “blocked list” of schools which Jeter could not attend. Even if it had something to do with tampering or not coming to talk to you about it first, maybe giving the kid — because he is just a kid after all — a chance to talk to you about it could do wonders. Instead, Stallings looks like a bitter, out of touch accountant looking fool. Which, unfortunately, is a recurring theme with generally unsuccessful college basketball coaches.
Vanderbilt is not alone in blocking transfers for the sake of abusing their own power. This happens far too often with universities wielding too much power. So really, blaming the coaches or the programs is counterproductive. All they are doing is using the rules which benefit them to protect their assets. It is no different from how a Fortune 500 company would protect an asset such as an up and coming executive. The difference, though, is if a Pepsi employee gets an offer from Coca Cola and his current contract doesn’t block the move he can leave. Pepsi cannot all of a sudden change their minds because the employee didn’t tell the boss to his face.
Like so many things that go on in college sports, this is an NCAA problem. A problem that could be fixed if they really wanted it to be. Although, I would be silly not to point out that the NCAA has essentially become an organization that represents the universities as a whole rather than the governing body of college sports that also oversees the well-being of the amateurs that they claim they care so much to protect.
Jeter can still technically transfer to play for Pitt. But if he was expecting to receive a scholarship he would be wrong. Thanks to how (poorly) the NCAA rules are built and since Stallings blocked the move, Jeter would be prohibited from receiving a scholarship from Pittsburgh for his initial season. I mean, all he would have to do is take out loans and the like — you know, so he can make the university and the NCAA some money while he can be presumably struggling financially.
I don’t know if the NCAA or universities know the definition of amateurism, but I am pretty sure they think the picture next to the word is that of a sweatshop.
Joseph is a contributor for Rant Sports. For the love of Sam Cassell, follow him on the mean streets of Twitter @JosephNardone