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Here’s Why Graduate Transfer Rules Hurt Student-Athletes

basketball hoop

(Flickr – Eric Wong)

All Spike Albrecht wants to do is play basketball.

After missing most of last season and being granted a medical redshirt with a serious hip injury, Spike is itching to get back on the court. He wants to play so badly that he doesn’t care that Michigan head coach John Beilein has recruited over him and that he no longer has a spot of the Wolverines roster.

So, Albrecht, who is set to graduate from Michigan this semester, has decided to transfer to another school in order to play one final year of college basketball.

But this is not an inspirational story of a student-athlete overcoming injury to achieve his dreams because Michigan is restricting his ability to transfer. Citing a conference rule, the Wolverines will not let Albrecht move on to another Big Ten school without having to sit out for one year.

Michigan doesn’t need or want him but the university is able to tell him where he can and cannot transfer after he has graduated. This reasoning defies logic and it is hypocritical for coaches to support it.

Learn more about reasons why college athletes transfer between programs.

Double standard for college coaches and players

There are no rules outlawing coaches in the Big Ten from taking another job within the conference. Coach Beilein would not have to sit out for a year before being eligible to coach at Michigan State or Indiana yet he has the gall to demand it of his players.

Before Michigan and coach Beilein asked Albrecht to sit out a year, the Wolverines’ head football coach Jim Harbaugh won 10 games with the help of his starting quarterback Jake Rudock, a graduate transfer from Iowa who played immediately.

It seems like Michigan only allows graduate transfers to play right away when it helps them.

Michigan tried to prevent another basketball player from transferring

Last year, Michigan tried to limit basketball grad transfer Max Bielfeldt’s ability to transfer to within the Big Ten. Bielfeldt filed and an appeal with the school outside of the athletic department and it determined that he had the right to transfer to Indiana. He went on to become a key contributor with the Hoosiers and helped lead them to the Sweet 16.

Given this precedent, it is safe to assume that Spike Albrecht will also be granted the right to transfer to another Big Ten school, but why did it have to be so difficult?

It’s time for colleges to stop restricting graduate transfers and controlling their future.

Graduate transfer rules must make common sense

When a regular student graduates from college, they have complete freedom to choose a graduate school. Conversely, student-athletes are denied this ability by college coaches and administrators who are afraid of losing their competitive edge.

The problem with Michigan and the Big Ten’s graduate transfer rules is that they do not have the best interests of their student-athletes at heart. Spike Albrecht earned his college degree, worked tirelessly to come back from double hip surgery and he deserves the opportunity to transfer without limitations.

How can you avoid getting into a college transfer situation?

Check out these tips one of our recruiting experts shared to be sure you won’t run into a transfer situation in your recruiting.


How will you know if you’re choosing the best school for you to play without having to transfer? We can help. The best way to get started is with a recruiting profile.

About the author
Tom Johnson