Hey NCAA, let Syracuse basketball recruit Alan Griffin play right away

The NCAA needs to do the right thing and grant immediate eligibility to traditional transfers, including Syracuse basketball recruit Alan Griffin.

Whether Alan Griffin, a transfer from Illinois, will have the ability to suit up for Syracuse basketball in the 2020-21 campaign remains a mystery.

That’s because the NCAA, an often-criticized group which in all fairness has a lot on its plate right now, can’t quite seem to sort everything out.

On the one hand, a few days ago, the NCAA took an important step toward allowing student-athletes to profit from their own name, image and likeness in the future – even if many questions remain over the NCAA’s proposal on this topic.

Another big-time issue that affects the status of Griffin, and countless others, is whether the NCAA will modify its transfer rules so that student-athletes in all collegiate sports, including basketball and football, can transfer once with immediate eligibility.

At present, graduate transfers obviously can play right away. And in some instances, traditional transfers have received waivers to immediately compete.

Generally speaking, though, transfers who aren’t graduate students in five sports – men’s basketball, women’s basketball, baseball, men’s ice hockey and football – must sit out for a year before they can officially participate with their new teams. It’s an outdated, unfair policy.

In recent weeks, a ton of Internet chatter has speculated as to whether the NCAA would approve recommendations from a working group that says waiver guidelines should enable student-athletes in all sports to have the opportunity for a one-time transfer with immediate eligibility.

Analysts, commentators and journalists have speculated of late, even as the novel coronavirus pandemic has halted the entire sports world, about the possibility – or probability, in fact – that the transfer changes would go into effect for 2020-21.

But no one ever really knows with the NCAA. To that end, on April 30, the NCAA put out a press release that has many folks, this author among them, shaking their heads.

The announcement says that, while the Division I Council could still vote on proposed transfer-guideline changes as early as its May meeting, the Division I board of directors is recommending to the council “that changes to the waiver process as suggested by the working group are not appropriate at this time.”

Additionally, “Board members recommended the waiver process be sensitive to student-athlete well-being, especially those impacted by COVID-19 in the interim period.”

In other words, it’s certainly feasible that the recommended changes to the transfer rules won’t get implemented anytime soon. Some critics of these changes say that letting all players transfer without having to sit will open the floodgates and amounts to free agency in amateur athletics. Those are valid points.

Conversely, if coaches can leave their schools without penalty, student-athletes deserve the same right. I’ve seen an idea floated around that maybe only grad transfers should get to play immediately, or in the case of traditional transfers, when their coach leaves or is fired. That might prove a fair compromise.

Then again, with all the uncertainty out there due to the pandemic, a lot of young men and women may just want to continue their studies closer to home.

Griffin, a talented 6-foot-5 sophomore wing, is originally from Ossining, N.Y., about four hours from the Orange campus. If he decided to transfer to the ‘Cuse, in part, to live near his family, then hopefully the NCAA will give Griffin the green light to compete this fall.

Undeniably, it will create a messy situation if the NCAA grants immediate-eligibility waivers to all traditional transfers. Yet it’s the appropriate measure, and the NCAA should act accordingly.

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