A proposal that aims to slow the graduate transfer market could be a mixed bag for local college football and men’s basketball programs.
The bigger the program, it seems, the harder it would hit.
The proposed amendment to the current rule would count each grad transfer scholarship as two years rather than one and could affect future recruiting at Washington State football and Gonzaga men’s basketball, both of which have dipped into the transfer market in recent years.
WSU football, which struck gold a year ago with the arrival of quarterback Gardner Minshew from East Carolina, has high hopes for Eastern Washington grad transfer Gage Gubrud this season. Last fall, Gonzaga brought in guard Geno Crandall, who provided valuable minutes behind Josh Perkins upon his arrival from North Dakota.
“There’d be less graduate transfers if they do that,” WSU football coach Mike Leach said of the proposed amendment. “Originally, it was to reward people for graduating. I think it kind of defeats that purpose if they do that.”
Leach, who said his program doesn’t tap into the grad transfer market as much as others, said the proposal hurts athletes the most and moves the NCAA further from the intent of the original grad transfer rule, which was to help athletes to earn a graduate degree.
“The first one started out to reward people who graduated,” Leach said. “This wouldn’t do that.”
For smaller athletic programs at Idaho and Eastern Washington, however, the proposal would seem to give some protection against losing fifth-year seniors to larger programs.
EWU football has seen two record-setting quarterbacks, Gubrud and Vernon Adams, depart as grad transfers, although the basketball team got a big boost three years ago with the arrival of Jacob Wiley from Lewis-Clark State College.
“I don’t think it will pass, to be honest,” Eastern Washington men’s basketball coach Shantay Legans said of the proposal. “It would hurt the big dogs. Right now, it mostly hurts the schools that get their players plucked from the bigger schools.”
Idaho basketball coach Don Verlin, whose team hasn’t lost a fifth-year player since the original grad transfer rule was implemented 13 years ago, said many top-tier conference schools have used it to cherry pick elite seniors from leagues such as the Big Sky. He said the proposed amendment might give teams such as Idaho and EWU some insurance against losing players they’ve spent years developing.
“I see it from both sides, I really do,” Verlin said. “When they put that rule in, it was a good idea. But it really hasn’t worked the way they intended it to.”
Ralph Walter, Theo Lawson, Peter Harriman and Ryan Collingwood contributed this report.
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