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College Basketball Transferring: The Fake Epidemic

It seems to be an annual summer practice now that we need to point out how many transfers there are in college hoops, but is it really any sort of trend we should be worried about?

Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Spor

Every summer there seems to be some made up epidemic in college hoops. I mean ESPN is trying to tell us this summer that no one plays basketball on the playground any more.

The trendy crusade the past couple of seasons is transfers. You'll see high numbers, changes in recruitment, and the list goes on and on. But is transferring really an "epidemic"?

Sure the new graduation rules and transferring does play a bit of a role but only around 20% of the Division I transfers fall into that category. Pundits like Jeff Goodman will point to 625 transfers so far this year, but is that number really fair from a semantics standpoint? Kids used to just leave or drop out or go play a different sport but now everyone is a "transfer".

According to there are 646 athletes on their transfer list. Of that list 247 have decided to attend another Division I program, 260 are heading to non-Division I programs, and 139 are unaccounted for and may never be accounted for because they may never even play again.

The biggest variables in the "record numbers" are the fact we now have 351 teams and no one was tracking this stuff until a few years ago.  Sure ten years ago you'd hear about a big name transfer going from school to school but you wouldn't hear about the Monmouth walk-on transferring to a Division III school to get playing time. Eighteen to twenty year old men are an indecisive group and will remain to be.

There is no fire to put out here, there is no epidemic.  Instead of going on a witch hunt with the NCAA people should be looking at coaches who give some of these kids scholarships and have no intent on playing them.  From an anecdotal level it seems like Shaka Smart has two or three kids leave to get more playing time almost every year, kids like Teddy Okereafor, Reco McCarter, and Jairus Lyles. I don't know what was promised to these kids and it may very not be Smart's fault but maybe there should be more of a push from AAU, high school, and college coaches to find the best fit for these players instead of just back-loading their rosters.

There is also the aspect of coaching changes. Many times coaches will clean house when they get to a new school.  Sometimes they find rosters of guys who, quite frankly, should not be playing Division I basketball.  Look at Central Arkansas this year and they way Russ Pennell unloaded the Bears full roster. I don't know if it's right or wrong but it's a necessary evil if Central Arkansas wants to compete in the near future.

I don't know if the number of transfers from a percentage standpoint has gone up because we don't have the data to back up the argument because no one was keeping track ten years ago.  Matt Norlander recently posted the one tangible fact we do have:

Still, according to NCAA research, the percentage of D-I college basketball transfers (between 13 percent and 14 percent) is lower than the national average of college students opting to switch universities (closer to 20 percent) as undergrads. via CBS Sports

What I do know is that there is no epidemic and this summer crusade to fill content has to come to an end sooner or later.