All athletes shall have the right to transfer once after their sophomore year
and be eligible to play immediately.
The current rule
requiring a sit-out year is a vestige of the crusade to eliminate the
"tramp athletes" who migrated from school to school in the early 20th
century. Sure, rescinding that rule might cause some initial chaos. But
scholarship limits could be tweaked to offset an increase in defections; moves
could be limited to a defined off-season period; and protections could be put
in place for existing scholarship players so coaches wouldn't wantonly run off
players to "trade up." As it is, coaches "transfer" all the
time--and no one makes them sit out a season.
Scholarships shall be ironclad, five-year deals with full medical coverage and
Because she ran
poorly, a cross-country runner doesn't get her grant-in-aid renewed
(scholarships are only one-year agreements). A football player tears his ACL in
a summer workout, and because the session was "voluntary" (wink, wink),
his medical treatment might not be covered. A guaranteed five years with full
medical coverage and more money for incidentals would protect athletes, boost
graduation rates and decrease the risk that players would seek money through
boosters and other illicit means.
Colleges shall not limit the right of athletes to profit from a sport in
ancillary ways or to pursue professionally a sport they aren't playing
NCAA rules in
this area make little sense: Colorado kick returner Jeremy Bloom couldn't
accept endorsement money he earned as a moguls skier, but Notre Dame wide
receiver Jeff Samardzija could collect a salary as a minor league pitcher. Yes,
college stars' cashing in would mock Etonian notions of amateurism, but where's
the amateur spirit on campuses awash in naming-rights deals?
Colleges shall actively protect their athletes from performance-enhancing drugs
and the pressure to use them.
just-say-no PSA aired on a Saturday afternoon, there's a strength coach who
sends a signal to a redshirt freshman lineman to get stronger by any means
necessary. "Actively protect" means to test even more extensively than
the NCAA does now and punish enablers as harshly as users.
Colleges shall make every effort to ameliorate the disruptive effect that
athletics have on academics.
This means not
steering athletes into classes simply to accommodate practice schedules, and
thinking of academics when making game schedules. Big Monday may be an
ESPN-stitution, but it can cause a basketball player to miss a full day of
classes. Whatever it takes, colleges should provide: from tutors on planes and
rescheduled exams, to makeup classes and a reduced course load in-season.