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Here's a 'yes' vote for free agency in college athletics

Bo Ryan and the Wisconsin basketball team have been shamed into doing the right thing, and Jarrod Uthoff is free to transfer. But the issue behind the situation goes deeper than just where athletes can go.
by Berry Tramel Published: April 19, 2012

So sure, players might transfer more. And that's a bad thing, why? You think Jarrod Uthoff leaving Wisconsin and Jordan Clarkson leaving Tulsa are going to turn college basketball on its ear? Brandon Williams leaving OU to tailback at Texas A&M is going to swing the balance of Southwest power?

We've seen a semblance of free agency with the NCAA's relatively new rule that allows players who graduate with eligibility remaining to transfer without penalty. So Garrett Gilbert is headed to SMU, and Russell Wilson left North Carolina State to play immediately at Wisconsin (some irony there, huh?).

Has that hurt collegiate athletics? No, it's helped. It's given a few players precious freedom, and it's created excitement at some schools.

Look at the NFL. Spring free-agent signings keep pro football on the front-burner of the nation's consciousness. Free agency has replaced trades as the firewood of baseball's Hot Stove League. NBA fans are all aquiver each July as free agents change teams.

Hey, colleges. Pull your head out. Seize the marketing opportunity. Psycho fans get all worked up about February recruiting, over guys who mostly won't play.

How about a spring window where transfers announce their new schools. Think that wouldn't sell a few tickets at places like OSU and Texas Tech and Kansas State?

Sure, the big dogs would feed off the little guys. But maybe the smaller schools would benefit on the front end. Maybe Blake Bell goes to Tulsa for two years, then transfers to OU. Maybe Herschel Sims runs tailback at North Texas for a year, then heads to OSU.

I know, it would be wild, at least for awhile.

But we wouldn't have coaches, making millions of dollars a year, with freedom to move at any whim, holding down athletes who just want a fresh start.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at btramel@opubco.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.

by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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