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Can we stop acting like transfers are ruining basketball?

This time every year, old white guys clutch their pearls and whine, but transfers aren’t hurting the game.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Nashville Practice
Can you believe the gall of this guy?
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

For goodness sake. I hate to use a phrase that sounds like your grandmother, but this is a family site. This time every year we roll out the fainting couches, prepare our finest china for serving chamomile tea, and clutch our pearls oh so dearly. Why? What inspires hundreds of tweets from Fran Fraschilla and the rest of his ilk? Is it another hookers and blow situation? More $100,000 under the table payments to predatory AAU coaches? No, it’s college kids switching schools.

Consider, for a moment, how stupid it is to be bothered by this. If any other undergrad in the world wants to pursue a different opportunity, follow a significant other, change scenery, or just dip out for no good reason, they do. I’m not sure if you are aware of this, but no one cares when that happens. One of the editors of this illustrious(ish) site has college credits from four different schools. Fran and co. seemed unconcerned at the time. Transfers happen every day.

But wait, say the old guys, those aren’t “student-athletes” who made a commitment to a school. For starters, I’d caution anyone in their 60s against assuming that any 18 year old can, even in the best of faith, make a four year commitment, but that’s not that point here. These same analysts breathlessly report as PAID coaches flit from job to job without a care about all of the players being left behind. The players, who are without leverage or monetary recompense for their efforts, are inexplicably held to a much higher standard.

That’s without mentioning that finding the best opportunity is the American way. If you are stuck at a job where what you wanted didn’t materialize or the boss that brought you on and promised you the world abruptly leaves, you don’t sit on your hands and just grind your way through until retirement, you leave for something better. If you don’t, people rightly question why not. Why on earth should a young man essentially auditioning for a career not do the same thing? It’s incomprehensible.

And yet we gather here every year, lamenting I’m not entirely sure what. A student (because that’s what they are, right?) goes to a different school. Of the 451 transfers this year, more than a third are grad transfers or players with a hardship exemption to become immediately eligible. In other words, they’ve either already finished a degree at one school or had something happen to them that even the NCAA, well known for its flexibility and sympathy, recognizes as a serious difficulty. In the average season that leaves around 1.4% of scholarship players transferring this year. That’s what the fit throwing is all about right now. 1.4%. It’s absurd.