On Friday morning, Michigan head football coach Jim Harbaugh made waves when he supported immediate eligibility for transfers while speaking at Big Ten media day.
“My opinion is that every student-athlete should have a one-time ability to transfer and not have to sit out a year,” Harbaugh said.
The NCAA has inconsistently granted waivers for transfer players to bypass the rule requiring undergraduates to sit for a season before being able to play.
Harbaugh would simply like to eliminate the gray area by having all first-time transfers granted immediate eligibility.
Harbaugh defends comments on Twitter
After coming under fire for his comments, Harbaugh took to Twitter on Saturday to clarify and defend his stance.
In a statement, Harbaugh wrote that he wasn’t pushing an agenda, but rather being forthright and transparent about his beliefs.
Harbaugh casts doubt on mental health claims
Expounding on the issue in an ESPNU Radio interview, Harbaugh delved into a discussion about players citing mental health issues as reason to transfer.
In a rambling response to a question about transfers, Harbaugh volunteered the topic of mental health and said that football players “shouldn’t be lying” while suggesting that some players who claim mental health problems in transfer situations aren’t being truthful.
You can listen a clip of the interview below.
People ‘shouldn’t be lying’
“And the other piece that bothers me about it is, the youngster that says ‘this is a mental health issue, I’m suffering from depression.’ Or that’s a reason that they’re getting eligible. And once that’s known, just say this or say that to get eligible.
The problem I see in that is you’re going to have guys that are ‘OK, yeah, I’m depressed.’
Harbaugh rambles on for a while before reaching a conclusion about lying.
“Telling the truth matters,” Harbaugh said. “Especially at a college. You can’t have experiments that aren’t truthful. You can’t lie about experiments. You can’t lie about equations. Shouldn’t be lying in football.”
‘Please don’t write a bunch of letters’
Nick Baumgardner recorded a written transcript of the entire exchange below, with a snippet from Harbaugh not heard in the above clip where he seems to realize that challenging people’s claims of mental health issues might not be the best tact.
Jim Harbaugh was on ESPNU Radio today, asked why he feels every player should be allowed to transfer once with immediate eligibility.— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) July 19, 2019
He went on to question whether or not some players are using mental health as a transfer reason that might not be true.
Full comments pic.twitter.com/cqFeArVFVB
“And I can add, please don’t write a bunch of letters,” Harbaugh said. “I care very deeply about mental health. I”m not saying everybody’s lying about that.”
Former Michigan player cited depression
Harbaugh appears to be sensitive to mental health claims in transfer requests from personal experience. He didn’t mention him by name, but former Michigan offensive tackle James Hudson was denied a transfer waiver in May after citing depression in his waiver claim after transferring to Cincinnati.
“Like many football players I was afraid to speak up about my depression not wanting to look weak,” Hudson wrote on Twitter after being denied his claim. “Now the NCAA is telling me that my courage to step forward and speak about my issues was done too late and subjectively my ‘Circumstances do not warrant relief.’”
Hudson appeared less than impressed with Harbaugh’s initial remarks Friday morning supporting immediate eligibility.
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