A pair of UCSB men’s basketball transfers and another who’s joining the women’s program will be immediately eligible next season if a controversial rule change is approved next month by the NCAA Division 1 Council.
The coaches for both Gaucho teams, however, oppose the change.
“I think this would be terrible for college basketball,” men’s coach Joe Pasternack said.
The NCAA’s transfer waiver working group recommended in February that all athletes be permitted a one-time transfer without having to sit out as a redshirt. Immediate eligibility is currently allowed in all NCAA sports except basketball, football, baseball and hockey.
The Division 1 Council met on Friday but decided to table the proposal until May 20. Nearly 800 athletes have entered their names in the NCAA’s transfer portal this spring, although about 200 are already immediately eligible as graduate transfers.
Those 800 include Georgia Southern sophomore Calvin Wishart and Temple freshman Josh Pierre-Louis, both of whom have announced that they will be transferring to UCSB next year. Also in the transfer portal is Megan Anderson, a forward whose transfer from San Jose State to UCSB was announced last week by Gaucho coach Bonnie Henrickson.
Anderson, a 6-foot forward, holds the San Jose State record for 3-point shooting percentage in both a season (43.8%) and a career (40.3%). She ranks second in career threes with 185 and would have easily broken the school record of 199 had she remained at San Jose. She averaged 8.8 points and 3.3 rebounds for the Spartans last season.
But Henrickson, who already has a deep roster for next season, worries about “the logistics moving forward” of having redshirt transfers suddenly eligible to play.
“We’re in a position to redshirt her, and it’s something she wants to do,” she said. “She’s fine with doing that, and we are, too.”
UCSB’s two men’s transfers are both guards who were expected to replace three seniors — JaQuori McLaughlin, Devearl Ramsey, and Brandon Cyrus — after next season.
Wishart led Georgia Southern in 3-pointers (59), 3-point percentage (38.3%), and assists (79) last season. He averaged 9.4 points for an Eagles’ team that went 20-13.
Pierre-Louis, a point guard who led Roselle Catholic High to the New Jersey State Championship, averaged 3.8 points and 12.7 minutes of playing time s a freshman at Temple last year.
Allowing transfers immediate eligibility would turn college basketball into “the wild, wild west,” Pasternack said. It would make it easier for power-5 conference teams to poach star players off mid-major programs such as UCSB.
“Higher-level programs would be recruiting directly off your team,” he said. “Mid-major programs would get decimated. This really isn’t what college basketball is all about.”
One power-5 conference coach admitted to ESPN.com that mid-major programs would become “our G League … They’ll be our little amateur league where we’ll draw good players from.”
Life lessons would be lost, Pasternack noted, if players were allowed such free agency.
“When a kid is unhappy —whether it’s with his playing time, or his role on the team, or if he thinks he’s getting coached too hard — the easiest thing to do is run,” he said. “It would make that easier if you didn’t have to redshirt when you transfer.
“In life, the worst thing you can do is just run away.”
The measure, however, has drawn support from both the Big Ten and ACC, and is expected to be approved next month by the NCAA Division 1 Council.
In the proposal, however, transfer must meet four criteria to become immediately eligible: They must receive a release from their previous school; be academically eligible when they transfer; be maintaining academic progress at their new school, and be leaving while under no disciplinary suspension.