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How ever-changing NCAA transfer guidelines impact Delaware’s men’s and women’s basketball

SportsCAA NewsHow ever-changing NCAA transfer guidelines impact Delaware's men's and women's basketball

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Among both the men’s and women’s basketball programs, a total of eight players have transferred to Delaware from a previous institution.

Senior Sports Reporter

The number of college basketball transfers has grown ever since the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) introduced the Transfer Portal in 2018. In 2019, nearly 30% of all men’s basketball players were transfers, according to the NCAA.

In most NCAA sports, student-athletes are granted a one-time exception to transfer and compete immediately at his or her new university. However, that one-time transfer rule does not apply to football, baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, and men’s ice hockey.

This coming January, a proposal for all Division I student-athletes to have this one-time exception has a possibility of being passed. The proposal was originally scheduled to be voted on in May, but it was pushed back to the beginning of 2021.

While some men’s and women’s basketball transfers had to request for a transfer waiver due to that delay, all transfers in basketball eventually received waivers for the ongoing 2020-2021 season.

Earlier this month, Jeff Goodman reported that the basketball oversight committee recommended all transfers receive waivers for this season. On Dec. 16, that proposal was passed by the Division 1 Council.

Such expansion of transfer eligibility is sure to have an impact on mid-major schools like the University of Delaware. Both of the Blue Hens’ basketball teams have four transfer players on the rosters.

On the women’s side, Tee Johnson (Tallahassee Community College and Florida), Chyna Latimer (George Washington), Jewel Smalls (Western Carolina) and Ty Battle (Indiana State) are all transfers. Johnson, Latimer and Battle are all currently eligible, while Smalls will be eligible during the 2021-2022 season.

For the men’s team, current transfers are Dylan Painter (Villanova), Reggie Gardner (North Carolina Central), Anthony Ochefu (Stony Brook) and Logan Curtis (East Carolina).

Ochefu, who transferred this past summer, just received a waiver from the NCAA to play this year after missing the team’s first game against Salem University. For Painter, a redshirt senior, his transition into Blue Hen basketball was not as quick.

Painter transferred to Delaware from Villanova after the fall of 2018. He was forced to sit out during the end of the 2018-2019 season and the fall semester of the 2019-2020 season. He was able to practice and be with his teammates during his year out but not play on the court.

“Sitting out and only being able to practice was pretty tough,” Painter said.

However, first-time transfers in similar situations to Painter may not have to endure the wait, thanks to the proposal of the one-time exception rule. The addition of this exception would remove a lot of the buzz around the granting of waivers to first-time transfers.

Transfer waivers are looked at on a case-by-case basis, and the grounds for approving or denying a student athlete’s waiver are considered confidential. John Heck, an Associate Commissioner of Governance and Compliance for the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA), gave some insight into the waiver process.

“It is very case-by-case specific, and every transfer case is different; there are no two cases that are the same,” Heck said.

Heck also mentioned a new waiver form added this year, called the “No Participation Opportunity Form.” This form is helpful to transfers who would not have had a chance to participate on the team at his or her original school.

“This form says that … if both athletic directors, but more specifically the athletic director of [the original institution] says the student athlete would not have had an opportunity to participate in athletics had he or she remained, that waiver is much more likely to get approved,” Heck said.

While Heck noted that many transfers have included this form in their waiver requests this calendar year, it is not applicable to student-athletes who are simply looking for increased playing time and opportunity.

The one-time exception proposal could be the golden ticket for first-time transfers who are looking for an increase in opportunity or a change in college for a multitude of reasons.

But for current transfers like Ochefu, an approval of a waiver was still needed. Luckily for the Blue Hens, that waiver was granted, and he will be eligible for the rest of the season. Having the senior forward available this season is something that Coach Martin Ingelsby is sure to be elated about.

“We look for high character kids and competitors, [while also] looking for positional fit and need,” Ingelsby said of Delaware’s approach to the transfer portal.

While Ingelsby did call the portal “a really good thing” for college basketball, he also acknowledged the downsides it poses to mid-major schools.

“Major programs have changed their recruiting philosophies; they’re actively pursuing the Transfer Portal,” Ingelsby said. “We can’t go out and fill a spot [left by a transferring player] in June.”

Such a situation happened this past June when forward Justyn Mutts transferred from Delaware to Virginia Tech. The Blue Hens were fortunate to welcome Ochefu to the team to help mitigate the loss of Mutts’ inside presence.

If a one-time exception rule is added to men’s and women’s basketball, it could become even more common to see star mid-major players transfer to Power Five programs. That prospect, though, is simply the nature of the beast.

“It kind of hurts the mid-major programs, but I think that keeping it the same for everybody will be the most fair way,” Painter said regarding the transfer portal and waiver process.

Of course, Delaware has had its own benefits via the transfer portal, such as former standout guard Nate Darling from the University of Alabama-Birmingham or Painter himself. There will always be two sides to the coin, no matter the school.

“We’ve been hurt by guys leaving, but we also benefited from good players coming into our program,” Ingelbsy said. “So it is a two-way street, it’s a necessary evil in college basketball right now.”




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