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Why All the Fuss About Transferring?

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Quarterback Blake Barnett recently transferred from the University of Alabama to Arizona State University. Barnett was criticized by some for leaving Alabama just a few games into the 2016 season. Photo: CBSSports.com

Some collegiate coaches across the country are speaking out about the increased trend in players wanting to transfer. This is not a new phenomenon. I was one of those players who transferred back in the mid 80’s. I was at a Division I institution playing baseball. I actually walked on and earned a scholarship after my first semester. However, due to a coaching change and other reasons, I chose to transfer. I have a close friend who played Division I basketball and transferred after his first season of competition for the same type of reason. I could go on and on with individuals I know who have transferred over the years.

The question is why do coaches feel it is okay for them to take the next best contract that becomes available to them, but it’s not okay for the player to take another opportunity that they may have? Many fans and players are upset with football coach Tom Herman for leaving the University of Houston for the lucrative contract he received at the University of Texas. I was speaking with a colleague at work who played Division I college football. His coach was being sought after by a larger school with the ability to pay more money. This coach had a meeting with his team and was adamant that he was not leaving for this school. He even became very emotional in the meeting. One week later he accepted the offer and never met with his team again before he left. How did that affect the players in that program? What did that coach teach his players in that situation?

Players and coaches are no different than any other person in society. If they are offered something better for themselves or family they will most likely take the other opportunity. Therefore, how can fans, other players, coaches, or anyone associated with the situation get upset with others that choose to move on? Life is about living and learning. If one chooses to leave a sports program for one reason or another that they feel is in their best interest, those on the outside looking in should be less judgmental and more understanding of the possibilities of why they may be leaving. Major college athletics have created this monster themselves. Before pointing fingers and blaming players for transferring, they should ask themselves what they would do if they were unhappy or had a better opportunity. Many coaches and administrators at that level have left with less criticism. It should be a two-way street for the athletes as well. After all, we have all made bad decisions in life at times.

By Dr. Bret Simmermacher

Dr. Simmermacher is the Chair of Sports Coaching at the United States Sports Academy, and can be reached at bsimmer@ussa.edu

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