Mitch Vingle: Huggins, Bilas and the issue of transfers

West Virginia University men’s basketball coach Bob Huggins. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

When it comes to the issue of NCAA transfers, all has been quiet on the Mountain State hoops front. Marshall guard Ky’re Allison has moved on, but there hasn’t been news to report from WVU. Still, there’s been a ton of movement within the Big 12. Also, the topic itself has been hotly debated of late. And both Mountaineer coach Bob Huggins and ESPN analyst Jay Bilas have chimed in.

First, Pittsburgh was scorched with criticism when basketball player Cameron Johnson, a summa cum laude graduate, was initially blocked from moving to North Carolina. Pitt said he wouldn’t be released to any ACC school or any other team on the Panthers’ schedule. In football, Kansas State coach Bill Snyder was roundly criticized for a similar stance against Corey Sutton. Both athletes were ultimately released.

Bilas strongly sided with the students. In a lengthy article, he wrote that since the NCAA insists these are “student athletes” and not “employees” they should be treated like any other student and be allowed to transfer at will. If not, he argues, the NCAA is basically invoking non-compete clauses, which are bargained for between employers and employees.

Bilas also says any claim that schools are “investing” in players is “absurd.” “Can you imagine a school trying to restrict the transfer of a scholarship music student or scholarship mathematician due to the investment the school has made in that student?” he asked.

And then there’s Huggins’ stance on graduate transfers. More and more Division I students are earning their degrees quicker because of increased financial aid for summer coursework, earlier arrivals on campus (sometimes with college credits already in hand), bolstered tutoring, etc.

That’s allowing some to take advantage of the “graduate transfer” rule intended to assist high-achieving students pursue another degree of interest. They can transfer to a different school that offers a different program and play right away.

“I think they ought to have to sit,” Huggins said of the rule this week. “The initial thing about the graduate transfer [rule] was for someone to go and enroll in a curriculum the current school doesn’t offer. But that’s not what happens.

“It’s a one-year deal. We’re fortunate that the only one we’ve taken — Matt Humphrey — did finish his degree. But it’s not doing what it was intended. The only way they’re going to be able to come in and leave with a degree is spend another year. So I think it would make sense to sit out just like any other transfer.”

The NCAA itself has said data have emerged showing basketball and football transfers ultimately earn few graduate credits and leave school when their athletic eligibility expires.

If nothing else, Bilas and Huggins have to agree transfer rules need examined. But in the meantime, take a look around the Big 12. While WVU has been quiet, check out, say, Kansas.

Leaving KU is former McDonald’s All-America player Carlton Bragg Jr., who is headed to Arizona State. But moving to Lawrence from ASU is freshman guard Sam Cunliffe, who will be eligible at the end of the first semester.

Heading out of Kansas as well are grad transfers Dwight Coleby (Western Kentucky) and Evan Maxwell (Indiana Wesleyan). Also joining the Jayhawks are grad transfer forward Jack Whitman (William & Mary) as well as the brother duo of sophomore Dedric and redshirt freshman Keelon “K.J.” Lawson (Memphis). Freshman point guard Charlie Moore (Cal) is also in.

The latter three have been called some of the nation’s best “sit-out” transfers.

So the business of transferring is alive and well. According to Verbalcommits.com, 695 players had decided to transfer as of Friday.

A quick look at those within the Big 12:

TCU

OUT — Freshman forward Josh Parris (Rice) and grad transfer guard Malique Trent (Hampton). IN — Grad transfer forward Ahmed Hamdy-Mohamed (VCU).

IOWA STATE

OUT — Grad transfer forward Ray Kasongo and sophomore forward Simeon Carter (Georgia Southern). IN — Grad transfer forwards Jeff Beverly (UTSA) and Hans Brase (Princeton), sophomore forward Michael Jacobson (Nebraska) and junior Marial Shayok (Virginia).

OKLAHOMA

OUT — Sophomore guard Darrion-Strong Moore (Arkansas-Fort Smith) and redshirt sophomore forward Dante Buford.

KANSAS STATE

OUT — Redshirt freshman center Dante Williams (Blinn College). IN — Junior forward Patrick Muldoon (Eastern Illinois) as a walk-on.

BAYLOR

OUT — Grad transfer guard Allerik Freeman (North Carolina State).

TEXAS

OUT — Sophomore guard Tevin Mack (Alabama). IN — Sophomore point guard Elijah Long (Mount St. Mary’s).

TEXAS TECH

OUT — Grad transfer Shadell Millinghaus.

OKLAHOMA STATE

IN — Center Yankuba Sima (St. John’s), who should be eligible for the second semester this coming season, and guard Kendall Smith, a grad transfer from Cal State Northridge.

So while the transfer debate continues, so does the action within the Big 12 and beyond.

Contact Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827 or mitchvingle@wvgazettemail.com. Follow him on Twitter @MitchVingle.

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