NCAA needs more transparency

June, 4, 2012
The NCAA continues to have a transparency problem with transfer waivers.

Explanations, which involve quotes and reasoning, need to come from the actual people who make the decisions.

Sophomore Trey Zeigler got a waiver to play immediately at Pitt after his father, Ernie, was fired as head coach at Central Michigan.


Well, no reason was given and no one from the NCAA staff or the committee that handles the waiver gave an explanation.

Freshman Joey Miller transferred from Eastern Illinois to Illinois-Chicago after his father, Mike Miller, was out at Eastern Illinois. He was cleared to play immediately. UIC coach Howard Moore said on the school's website that "Joey and his family were in a very difficult situation and I believe that the NCAA made the right decision, based on all the circumstances.''

But there was no statement from the NCAA on why the decision was made and who made it.

Roscoe Smith transferred from Connecticut to UNLV and is seeking a waiver to play immediately because the Huskies have a postseason ban in 2013 due to a poor APR. The problem with Smith's case is that the rule clearly states a player can transfer without sitting out a year in residence if his eligibility mirrors a postseason ban. Smith has two years remaining and UConn's ban is for one. That's why rising senior Alex Oriakhi can play immediately at Missouri after transferring from UConn.

Yet, if Smith gets denied or somehow gets a waiver, will a full explanation be given by the people who actually made the decision? This move will have tremendous consequences since it would open up the rest of the UConn roster to be poached by schools around the country. UConn athletic director Warde Manuel is legitimately perplexed as to why the NCAA would even hear the case considering it would be interpreting the rule in a completely different manner and essentially changing the legislation.

NCAA spokesperson Stacey Osburn denied to make available anyone from the committee who handles the waivers or staff members who make direct decisions on these transfer requests.

Instead, she referenced a question and answer session on the NCAA website on transfer issues: The question and answer session, which doesn't include names of anyone who actually makes the decisions, includes a passage that the NCAA approved 91 transfer waivers from April 2011 to April 2012 and denied 71.

But the reasons for each must be given. The Zeigler and Smith cases are high-profile, and accountability has to be offered for reasons why a player is denied or allowed to skip the year-in-residence requirement.

When NCAA president Mark Emmert was hired, he met with the media and promised that there would be more transparency.

The NCAA has been proactive on giving answers on infractions cases. It has also been out front, at times, in responding to some decisions on eligibility (last year with Kentucky's Enes Kanter, for example).

But the NCAA continues to have the Wizard of Oz approach where there is someone behind the curtain who makes decisions. Yet, there are a number of committees, made up of member schools, that are involved in these decisions. They must have a public voice.

These committees can conduct their business in private, but once a decision is made, the NCAA needs to put out press releases on each one to explain why a waiver was granted or denied. There needs to be a name attached to the decision, representing the committee.

The NCAA continues to progress and make decisions quicker than it did in the past. But it has not done a quality job in sharing why some of these transfer decisions are made.

It isn't about federal laws.

The waivers granted for an ill parent or ones involving grad school waivers deal with medical and academic issues. That's fine. But waivers granted for transferring that center around a dad being fired or a postseason ban have nothing private about them. There needs to be full disclosure. The NCAA staff member, and the committee member, have to be held accountable for these decisions and be open with the reasons behind each one.

Andy Katz | email

ESPN Senior Writer


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