NCAA rules favor coaches, but not players

The NCAA does not often rule in the favor of student athletes. It is an entity that values its coaches rather than the players that produce results.

Student athletes commit four years of eligibility to a university, and if they ever choose to transfer to another school they are forced by the NCAA to sit out an entire year before they can play again.

Now, if the NCAA were fair, it would enforce the same treatment upon coaches who leave a school for another.

Coaches sign multi-year contracts at schools and walk into the homes of future student athletes to secure their promise to come play under their reign at a school. They develop a bond with these players, and often the players choose the school in which to attend solely because of who the coach is.

Once that student signs their letter of intent to a school, the NCAA has them in the palm of their hand. The same, though, cannot be said of a coach when they sign their initials on money-heavy contracts.

FIU has recently experienced this dilemma.

Most recently, former men’s soccer coach Kenny Arena, son of Los Angeles Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena, left FIU to take a coaching job under his father in the MLS.

Arena had a less than spectacular two-year run at FIU, posting a 8-8-2 (0-7-1 C-USA) record in his first season and a 6-10-1 (2-6-1 C-USA) record this year. Arena was a big-name hire by FIU a couple of years ago, and was expected to improve the team drastically.

The problem with Arena’s early departure is the players he leaves behind. The athletes he recruited to come to FIU based solely on the fact that they wanted to play for him, and now he is gone.

Some of the players on Arena’s team are from Europe, which makes his departure even harder on them. Athletes like junior Quentin Albrecht, who left his native Germany to play at FIU, are now stuck in limbo as he awaits for a new head coach to be named.

Albrecht, one of the best players the last two years, can transfer to another school without losing his eligibility but that school ,ust be outside of Conference USA.

That’s not fair is it?

Arena is not the only FIU coach to leave town after a short stint. Former men’s basketball coach Richard Pitino bolted for the University of Minnesota after just one season in South Florida.

Pitino finished just one year of a five-year, $1.25 million deal with the Panthers that he signed in April 2012. Pitino led the Panthers to an 18-14 record and their first winning season in 13 years before falling to Western Kentucky University in the Sun Belt Conference Championship.

Pitino’s case was even tougher on the players he left behind because a lot of them transferred to FIU and lost a year of eligibility to play under Pitino.

Point guard Raymond Taylor left Florida Atlantic University to play for Pitino, whose father is Hall of Famer Rick Pitino. Raymond Taylor is still at FIU as a senior and completely Pitino-less.

Forward Rakeem Buckles followed Pitino from the University of Louisville, where Pitino was an assistant coach under his dad, to play at FIU. Buckles obviously thought a lot of Pitino and was willing to make a drastic change in his life for him, and then Pitino bolted for the Golden Gophers.

The NCAA denied Buckles a transfer to Minnesota that would allow him to play this year with the Gophers. Buckles, already a fifth-year senior, had to no choice but to remain at FIU if he wanted to continue to play basketball at the collegiate level.

Buckles was denied to leave for Minnesota by the NCAA but Pitino was allowed and even saw a hefty pay raise out of the matter.

The NCAA clearly frowns upon empowering its student athletes, but they should not favor its coaches, either. Let’s level out the playing field, NCAA.


About the Author

Ruben Palacios
is the Assistant News Director of FIU student media, a sports junkie and a sneaker enthusiast. Not necessarily in that order. Loves the L.A. Lakers and Oakland Raiders. In that order.

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