We can safely say Clemson coach Dabo Swinney is against proposals that would allow athletes widespread immediate eligibility when they transfer from one school to another.
The NCAA is set to consider proposals this summer that could give athletes the ability to transfer without having to sit out a year. A proposal authored by Baylor and Iowa State would allow athletes to transfer without restriction if their coach leaves for another job or is fired and would prohibit schools from placing restrictions on where a player could transfer.
The proposal is a large departure from current transfer guidelines. Another idea that could be considered would allow any athlete a one-time immediate-eligibility transfer if he or she met specific academic guidelines. Swinney is not a fan of that widespread immediate-eligibility idea and even said he wasn’t sure there was a coach that would be for it.
“I’m not for it. I think we’ve got to find somewhere — there needs to be some changes, there’s definitely legislation that needs to come about to maybe modernize that process,” Swinney said Wednesday. “But I think what’s on the table right now is free agency and total chaos. Because you’re going to have a lot of bad things happening. Basically like the NFL right now. The NFL has college scouting but they also have an entire NFL scouting department where they’re just studying players from other teams. And so that’s what’ll happen in college. That’s exactly what’s going to happen.”
While it’s easy to envision Swinney’s hypothetical of staff sizes growing to scout players at other schools becoming a reality under the latter proposal, it’s worth noting the concept of “free agency” in college sports would come with significant restrictions. And, in our view, is the secondary option to the proposal that only gives immediate eligibility to players whose coaches depart.
If there was sweeping “free agency,” there would likely be a window where players could announce and complete their transfers in the offseason. We’re also not naive enough to think there isn’t a form of college scouting going on under the current proposal just because an undergraduate athlete has to sit out a year. College coaches have to look multiple years ahead when building their rosters.
And besides, free agency is already happening in college football when it comes to graduate transfers. The graduate transfer market was on full display earlier this week when Marshall secured the services of Wagner quarterback Alex Thomson chose the Thundering Herd over teams like Tennessee and Baylor. You don’t think the Volunteers or the Bears were scouting and recruiting Thomson and instead hoping he would choose them without much familiarity from either side?
Swinney is definitely right in that changes are needed to the NCAA’s transfer process. And It’s pretty safe to say those changes are coming. We just have to wait a few months to find out how big they’re going to be and how well-received they’ll be by college football coaches.
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