Support Local Journalism


Subscribe


Tricia Binford and Danny Sprinkle can both see the merits of what has been colloquially referred to as the NCAA’s new “one-time transfer” rule.

But the Montana State coaches remain wary of its potential drawbacks.

The NCAA this week ratified a rule change allowing athletes who have not previously transferred to be immediately eligible to play at a new school. Previously, they may have had to sit out a year.

The rule goes into effect beginning with the 2021-22 academic year.

Potentially in anticipation of this rule change, the transfer portals have already been flooded with entries this offseason. As of this week, the men’s has more than 1,400; the women’s has more than 800.

“I think our objective with how we recruit, who we recruit and the culture of our program will not change,” Binford said of her women’s basketball program. “With that being said, I’m not a fan of the rule. I think it’s already showing by how many kids are in the portal.”

The NCAA, in the past, has granted immediate eligibility for athletes in certain circumstances. Binford said she understands and respects how some life changes make that waiver process necessary.

“There are definitely times when it’s needed. I want to make that clear. There are some student-athletes who it’s really important for,” she said. “But I think giving an immediate-change option, particularly when every freshman year is going to be hard in certain ways, we’re opening up a way to not work through that process, and I think that’s a mistake.”

Sprinkle, MSU’s men’s basketball coach, was initially more receptive to the rule change.

“I have no problem with it,” he said. “I think it gives a lot of people flexibility. With some of the new NCAA rules and legislation, they’re making it easier to transfer and be eligible right away, which I think is fair to the kids because if there’s a coaching change they should have the opportunity to go explore somewhere else and not sit out a year.”

Sprinkle added the transfer rule could make it harder to build a program, especially in the Big Sky and leagues of a similar level.

“I do think it’s going to affect low mid-majors from a standpoint of if you develop a kid, those high majors are going to come and pick him off,” said Sprinkle, who had seven transfers on his roster this past season. “We’re basically going to become junior colleges for the high majors. But there’s some positives, too, where high majors can only have so many kids on their roster, so when they’re losing three or four guys, we might get kickbacks from them. It’s going to be a yin and yang.”

Sprinkle went on to say that sort of player movement is sometimes inevitable. It’s just easier now.

“That’s the times we live in,” he said.

Binford acknowledged her team has benefited from some transfer movement in recent years. Former players Martha Kuderer and Claire Lundberg both came from Seton Hall, former Big Sky MVP Fallyn Freije came from North Dakota and current player Skye Lindsay transferred from Pepperdine.

But Binford also said the opportunity to transfer freely one time could lead to high school or club coaches “getting in these kids’ ears” and guiding them to a new program.

Binford said she believes the ability to overcome challenges is lessened when presented with an easy out.

“That perseverance trait that they experience is one of the most valuable gifts that they could graduate with,” she said, “and I don’t want to lose those kinds of things.”

Both MSU coaches acknowledged they will have to adapt to the new rule. However they feel about it, for better or for worse, they will have to learn to use it, benefit from it and overcome it.

Binford said her program’s core values won’t change, and she is still focused on maintaining a welcoming and successful environment that, ideally, players won’t want to leave anyway until they graduate.

“We’ll obviously search for the good in it, and we’re going to utilize it to be as successful as we can when we have the option to do it. We’re just not really in that situation currently,” she said. “We’re also going to make sure the core and culture of our program is still with those four-year kids.”

Support Local Journalism

To see what else is happening in Gallatin County subscribe to the online paper.

Parker Cotton can be reached at pcotton@dailychronicle.com or 406-582-2670. Follow him on Twitter @ByParkerCotton.

Recommended for you