About two weeks ago we learned of the case of Alabama defensive back Maurice Smith who wants to leave and play at the University of Georgia. Smith has graduated and seeking to move on as a graduate transfer but according to his mother who spoke to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution says that this is being blocked by Nick Saban.
Now Saban’s stance was a little different he said it was an SEC rule that would not allow the young man to transfer to another school in conference. After putting off on the conference the SEC stepped in last week and allowed Smith to transfer to Georgia. To be fair to the SEC they were not trying to prevent graduates who wanted to transfer from moving to other schools in the league, their concern was more with players who were kicked off teams for disciplinary reasons and ending up at other schools in the conference. Coaches saw themselves getting burned by their colleagues who of course wanted to win at all cost.
So Smith is now playing at UGA under his former defensive coordinator and current head coach Kirby Smart. So for this young man all is well and he is where he wants to be and eligible to play immediately. Now some kids do not get this luxury and this case broke out into a national debate about how these young men and their futures are handled. The NCAA still allows coaches to move freely from job to job chasing a check while the kids are stuck with the school. Now for you “the kid commits to school” people tell me why they never send teachers or the chancellor on football recruiting visit. Kids commit to the coaches who establish the relationships with them and their families.
Athletes are bound to schools and have to sit out a year if they want to transfer while the school can cut a kid after a year because the scholarships are renewable year to year. This case was interesting because it involved two coaches who worked together as recently as last year and both would seem like hypocrites when it comes to these transfer situations. See Nick Saban’s starting quarterback last season was transfer student. He also took in a transfer from the University of Georgia named Jonathan Taylor that was dismissed due to domestic violence incident. Taylor of course got himself into similar trouble at Alabama and had to leave there too.
What about good old Kirby who just wants to coach is former player and give him an option to play where he wants. Well what about the kids at Georgia who wanted to follow Mark Richt to Miami but Smart blocked their transfers. See coaches are only in favor of the rules that they need to get what they want. Smith was a graduate who should have been immune to all of this from the beginning. Once a kid finishes school and fulfills all of his or her academic obligations why hold them back? I mean aren’t they students first and this is just an extracurricular activity? Well it is until it isn’t. See when kids want money and healthcare they are students, when they decide to potentially mess with the school’s money they are athletes.
The NCAA may look at their rules but generally their ideas are not what’s better for the students but it’s how to keep them under control.
Keith B. Holt
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