By Patrick Bohn
Often, when an NCAA Division I college basketball player wants to speak to another school about transferring there, his or her request is granted. However, as a recent pair of incidents at the University of Wisconsin and Florida International University illustrate, sometimes requests to transfer can turn ugly, and lead to drastic decisions and outside criticism.
Florida International forward Dominique Ferguson requested to speak to another Division I basketball program closer to home, expressing to a three-person academic board how tough the distance was on him.
"I wanted to go to a school close to my family in the Midwest,'' Ferguson told ESPN.com. "I went to Hargrave [Military Academy in Virginia] my senior year in high school and came straight here and had seen my family only a handful of times. It was hard on me and affected how I played.''
Although he told ESPN he thought the meeting went "great," just hours after it ended, Ferguson received an e-mail that his request had been denied and that the board felt it was in his best interest to remain at FIU. Ferguson, who said it would be difficult to attend school without a basketball scholarship, chose instead to declare for the NBA Draft.
However, his prospects in the pro game, may not be strong. Yahoo!'s Jeff Eisenberg wrote that Ferguson, "would be very unlikely to be drafted this June after averaging 8.7 points and 6.2 rebounds this past season for an FIU team that lost 21 games last season."
Ferguson stuck to the course, insisting that even if the school were to release him at this point, he would not transfer.
"I have my mind made up," he told Yahoo!. "There's just too many rules with the NCAA. I don't want to go through this ever again."
Wisconsin's Jarrod Uthoff was not prevented from speaking to other schools about transferring. However, he was initially limited from contacting all the Big 10 and ACC schools on his list, plus Marquette and Florida. Many of the schools were possible future Badgers opponents.
Wisconsin later lifted the restrictions on all the schools except the Big 10 schools, but that hasn't stopped the criticism from coming in. Although some of it was directed at Badgers' Head Coach Bo Ryan, who was quoted by ESPN as saying: "There are rules of a scholarship. I didn't make them up," ESPN's Eammon Brennan took a shot at transfer rules themselves, writing:
"No one should think Bo Ryan is a bad dude. If that's your takeaway from all this, you're missing the point ...This is a bad rule that allows coaches to do things they shouldn't be able to do when their players decide to transfer, one that speaks to the deep imbalance of personal efficacy in collegiate athletics. That's what this is about."
Patrick Bohn is an Assistant Editor at Athletic Management.