Transfer issue goes much deeper than UM’s Shea Patterson case

by Angelique S. Chengelis of The Detroit News
Shea Patterson transferred to Michigan from Ole Miss, currently under NCAA probation that includes a two-year bowl ban, in December. It is now late April and while a decision from the NCAA regarding his appeal for immediate eligibility appears imminent, this lengthy saga has drawn attention to the much broader issue of NCAA transfers in football.

Transfers, unless they are graduate transfers, typically must sit a year.

Patterson, along with several teammates who also transferred, believes he was lied to by former Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze, members of the football staff and athletic department personnel. He contends he was misled during the recruiting process in 2016 regarding the breadth of the NCAA violations.
Michigan’s compliance department filed a waiver appeal with the NCAA on Patterson’s behalf and attempted to prove “egregious behavior” on the part of Ole Miss’ misinformation campaign that led him to transfer.

The NCAA working group has recommended some changes and tweaks to the transfer rule this week, and the Division I Council is expected to vote on them in June. The changes might not be as widespread as some college sports analysts might like, but they would be a start.

But Patterson’s appeal will be evaluated by the NCAA based on its current rules…

…There is interest in the Patterson story for multiple reasons, but it comes at a time when there has been much discussion about rehabbing the transfer rule. According to analysis from Ann Arbor-based Joyce Julius, Patterson and Mars combined for more than 1,000 mentions nationally on print, television and the Internet, mostly in the last week.

High-profile publications have been following this case and that boosted the exposure for Patterson and Mars.

“In the world of college football reporting, it certainly made a splash,” said Eric Wright, president of Joyce Julius.

And the boost in numbers came because of Ole Miss’ decision to object to Michigan’s waiver appeal.
Bilas said Ole Miss perpetuated a bad situation by going that route, a route that ultimately could have been avoided if players from programs under probation could freely transfer without penalty.

“Is it that hard to believe that Shea Patterson did not fully understand that could negatively impact his career going forward if they get hit with penalties?” Bilas said. “Why is that on Shea Patterson when any assistant coach could get up and leave? A paid employee could leave for greener pastures, but the players have to break all the rocks.

“From what I understand it’s reputational. They’re not in any way, shape or form agreeing he was misled or he didn’t have his eyes open. To me, that’s almost like a no-fault divorce. Just let the kid go. Don’t contest it. It’s never a good look when this is discussed publicly. The school will always lose. If the school and player lose, maybe the school is happy about that outcome. But I’ve also never understood why the player can’t transfer in conference or to a team on your schedule. They’re not leaving with the formula for Kentucky Fried Chicken.”

Student-athletes are rarely called on to offer opinions on rules that affect them.