Cuonzo Martin arrived at Tennessee more than a year ago with the men’s basketball program in flux following Bruce Pearl’s ouster.
Having not recruited any of the players he inherited, Martin knew he was dealing with fragile 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds who had just gone through a trying season with their head coach under fire.
The last thing Martin wanted was players jumping ship. But he understood — in that particular situation — if they wanted to.
“I think there should there be some leeway when there is a coaching change and a young man wants to leave the school,” Martin said.
Heading into his second season at UT, though, Martin seeks some consistency.
The Vols have lost at least three players to transfers — rising sophomore Wes Washpun, walk-on and former Clemson and Lipscomb transfer Cory Stanton and graduate student Renaldo Woolridge. Then again, they also have added a pair in Jeronne Maymon (Marquette) and Rob Murphy (Lipscomb).
“It’s something that really needs to be talked about,” Martin said, “because the transfer rate is at an all-time high.”
During Monday’s SEC coaches summer teleconference call, Martin and his SEC counterparts had mixed feelings regarding the current rate of Division I transfers. The NCAA recently released data that revealed the average transfer rate for men’s basketball in 2010-11 was 10.9 percent — the highest of any sport.
In addition, nearly 40 percent of Division I men’s basketball players will not play at their original school by the end of their sophomore year.
“I think we’re dealing with a society issue because it’s instant gratification,” Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said. “I think when guys they go to college and their freshman year if they experience some adversity, then the first thing they think about is, ‘Well, should I leave? Should I transfer?’ ”
Stallings and the Commodores had two players transfer out after the 2010-11 season. Both — Darshawn McClellan and Andre Walker — were different cases because they transferred after graduating, which made them exempt from sitting out for one season.
No players transferred from last year’s team, though, it appeared one might. Rising junior point guard Kyle Fuller is sticking around after seeing his playing time decrease with the emergence of freshman Kedren Johnson.
The Commodores, however, are embracing a transfer. Guard Eric McClellan will sit out this season after coming from Tulsa and will be eligible in 2013-14.
NCAA President Mark Emmert convened a task force to review transfer rules, which require players to sit out a season after they switch schools. The group, headed by university presidents, is ensuring the rules are “meaningful, enforceable and advances student-athlete well-being.”
Transfers also effect a team’s Academic Progress Rate (APR), which impacts scholarships and postseason eligibility. Connecticut won’t be able to compete in the 2013 NCAA Tournament because they did not attain the minimum APR score of 930.
“I don’t know if reform is needed but I think we will probably continue to see a lot of it simply because that’s how kids are being raised now,” Stallings said. “I think there are people that are talking to them or advising them and telling them basically, ‘You have to get yours.’
“It’s a societal problem as much as it is anything.”
South Carolina coach Frank Martin doesn’t view it as a problem.
Martin spent the last five years at Kansas State and benfited from transfers such as Denis Clemente (Miami) and Curtis Kelly (Connecticut).
“Too many people make too big of a deal on transfers at a Division I level,” Frank Martin said. “Kids are transferring three or four times in high school. It’s not like they’re going to get to college and all of a sudden have an epiphany and decide to do things differently. It is the culture that is being created right now. At the end of the day, transfers don’t make anyone a failure. It doesn’t mean the program’s a failure. It doesn’t mean the young man’s a failure.
“If something’s not going right and the young man is not happy, it is going to be hard for everyone to coexist. Then it would be healthy for the young man, the program and everyone’s experience [for him to transfer].”