Mid-major basketball coaches including Dan Muller at Illinois State University are speaking out against a proposed NCAA rule change that would make it easier for players to transfer.
The rule would strike the current requirement that athletes sit out an entire year after transferring to another school. According to a number of sources, the change under consideration would allow an athlete to play immediately if they meet a GPA standard. As proposed, it would allow a player to transfer once immediately.
Muller said Monday during his weekly news conference the rule would be biased and unfair.
“You take certain student-athletes that may not be as prepared for college, clearly they’re not going to have the ability to transfer and play right away,” said Muller. “A lot of times their preparedness is not a fault of their own, so I think that’s inappropriate.”
Other media have reported fellow Missouri Valley coach Barry Hinson of Southern Illinois believes NCAA Division 1 basketball would split into two divisions if the proposed rule is enacted. During a weekly coach’s conference call with reporters, he challenged the media to report on this issue. He believes mid and low major basketball programs would be devastated by the rule change because major programs would be even more likely to "poach" better players from mid-majors if athletes didn’t have to sit a year after transferring.
“I can tell you when I was a player, I thought about transferring, as did almost every player on my team.” said Muller, who played for ISU from 1994-1998 and helped lead the Redbirds to their last NCAA appearance in 1998. “And we were really good and played for a good guy. So it’s a little scary if that’s the case … it really is.”
Despite the one-year rule, ISU has seen its share of talented players transfer during Muller’s six seasons. Rising star point guard Nic Moore transferred to SMU right after Muller was hired in 2012. Moore had just led the Redbirds to a strong showing in the NIT, losing to eventual champion Stanford in the second round. Moore later helped lead SMU to the NCAA tournament.
Then sophomore center Reggie Lynch, one of the nation’s leading shot-blockers, transferred three years later to Big 10 (and home-state) school Minnesota. Muller was stung after last season, when all-MVC second teamers MiKyle McIntosh and Deontae Hawkins both transferred to bigger programs under the graduate transfer rule. Because they had graduated from ISU while still eligible to play, they did not need to sit a year as undergraduates do. McIntosh is starting this year for Oregon, while Hawkins' Boston College season ended early with an injury.
If the proposed transfer rule had been in effect two years ago, Muller believes both seniors-to-be would have left sooner.
“McIntosh almost transferred two years ago, so most likely he would have been gone then instead of last year. Deontae Hawkins almost transferred every year,” chuckled Muller about his star forward known to be somewhat of a free spirit. “So he would have been gone earlier. It’s going to be tough if that’s the situation.”
Muller added that if the GPA rule had been in effect, some of those players may not have been able to transfer. However, he said, "If the transfer rule changes, he'll adapt despite the potential to split Division 1 teams into "haves" and "have-nots."
"We treat our players great, we treat them right, and we hold them accountable. But I don’t think it will change the way I coach one iota,” said Muller.
Illinois State hosts archrival Bradley on Wednesday, Jan. 17, in the first of two regular season matchups this season. The two campuses are just 40 minutes apart on Interstate 74.
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