Committing to a collegiate program is one of the hardest decisions for young athletes nowadays. When a five-star recruit begins to receive offer letters, they must assess many factors before signing the dotted line. Committing to the wrong program can stunt their developmental growth and alter their career path. Before they embark on their journies, NCAA Athletes must decide what program benefits them the most and will allow the most playing time to impress the scouts.
NBA Legend, Charles Barkley, is on record saying this is one of the most important things for an athlete during his sitdown on the ‘All The Smoke’ Podcast with Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson. He expressed playing time was the biggest reason for his success at Auburn during his 3-year tenure. “ It turned into the best decision ever, going to Auburn,” Barkley said “ I talk to players all the time don't talk to me about the education part, if you want an education you’re gonna get it, I say your #1 criteria on where you’re gonna go to college is playing time.”
He elaborated more by expressing the mental effects that occur after a bad decision “If you don’t get to play its gonna be awful because your school work is gonna suck and you will become homesick because what people don't understand is everyone can play in college.”
The Transfer Portal was established in 2018 to give athletes another opportunity to play for another University, and it has saved countless collegiate careers from obscurity. Ever since its establishment , If an Undergrad student transferred more than once, They must have a ‘grant waiver’ of eligibility from the NCAA to compete. Otherwise, they will have to sit out the entire year before being able to play again. This policy shelved a lot of great talent during their transfer, and the scouts can move on to new freshmen talent every year so the players have to make every season count.
On December 13th, 2023, history was made in a West Virginia courtroom. Federal Judge, John Preston Bailey , issued a 14-day restraining order against the NCAA. The restraining order allows second-transfer students across the NCAA the eligibility to compete without waiting on a grant waiver. Other states followed Virginia’s lead and filed lawsuits because the rule violated antitrust laws. The states were New York, Illinois, Colorado, Ohio, Tennessee, and West Virginia bringing the total number to six.
These six states were affected by the rule in some way in previous years. Most recently, RaeQuan Battle was ineligible to play for the West Virginia Men’s basketball team this year after transferring from Montana and Washington before that. He could practice with his teammates, but he could not suit up on game night, which affects him in many ways. If he cannot get on the court to impress the scouts, his draft stock will continue to decrease. The previous NCAA original rule could’ve potentially robbed him of his childhood dream, and it upset him emotionally not being able to join his teammates in war on the court.
Battle chose West Virginia because he had a personal connection with the staff, and it benefited his mental health which was a major priority for him. He grew up on the Tulalip Indian reservation, and he learned Mountaineers Head Coach, Josh Eilert, grew up on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation in South Dakota. The two of them felt an instant connection due to this revelation, and Battle became an instant part of the Mountaineers’ family. This was instrumental for Battle because he had lost his best friend to a drug overdose, and his last words to RaeQuan were "You're getting drafted."
RaeQuan’s story is very touching, and was used as a prime example when Attorney General, Patrick Morrisey, referenced him specifically when signing off on the deal “ (The restraining order) Paves the way for future student-athletes, like RaeQuan Battle, to play in the sports they love and continue improving themselves.”
Morrisey believes the NCAA’s policies violate the Sherman Act, and now with NIL deals being more prevalent than ever, the opportunities are better than ever. The life-changing deals offer an alternative route other than playing professional sports after college, and a small percentage of college players make it to the pros. Most Division 1 athletes lose eligibility around years 5-6, and it is harder to get drafted as an upperclassman because professional sports teams want younger talent they can develop over long time periods. Collegiate athletes can finally use their talent to create generational wealth for their families, and they need to take advantage of their short window while they have the chance.
“ We are looking forward to proving definitively that the NCAA has violated the Sherman Act by failing to maintain a consistent and defensible transfer rule by denying and denying these student-athletes the chance to play,” Morrisey said.
The Sherman Act of 1890 is a United States antitrust law that prescribes the rule of free competition among those engaged in commerce. It was passed by Congress and is named after Senator John Sherman, who is the principal author. Concerning the NCAA, athletes not being able to perform after a 2nd transfer can prevent them from possibly getting paid for their Name, image, and Likeness. Any athlete can acquire an NIL (commerce), therefore they should be able to play at all times.
on Friday, December 15th, it was ruled that the 2nd transfer athletes would be granted eligibility to play immediately after their transfer. It will last for the rest of the 2023-2024 school year through the winter and spring seasons. The NCAA’s decision is unprecedented and revolutionary in so many ways for all sports. It puts the students first and prioritizes their success because of the endless opportunities that can be given out at least for this year.
Many young athletes will be able to reap the benefits of the new systems for the new school they choose to play for. It provides a chance to revitalize their collegiate careers for those who weren’t able to get enough playing time or if their skills weren’t being utilized in the right role. It can also reignite the competitiveness inside the NCAA since the athletes will be inspired and motivated by their new opportunities.
The most important part is that it involves every sport in the ruling so it has the potential to rejuvenate all of college sports as a whole. So many futures are going to benefit from Judge Bailey’s decision. It will be interesting to see how the NCAA decides to proceed in the future especially if the positive feedback is more than they anticipate it to be.
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