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Double Bonus: Fifth Year Transfer Rule Killing Mid-Majors

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The fifth year graduate transfer has become a trend in college basketball and a trend that is decimating mid-major rosters.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Tis the season... This is the time of year that we get inundated with news of a phony crisis...transferring. Guys like Jeff Goodman will shoot out a tweet on a weekly basis touting how high their transfer list has grown this year while others cry outrage. I've tackled the subject before and how if you factored in other things, such as players of lesser skills leaving for other levels, then the numbers shrink substantially to a number where you can't make the hyperbolic cry that we're in a period of college hoops free agency.

Also, let's be honest, we didn't use to track these things so heavily in the past. When Neon Boudeaux would get kicked off the Western University Dolphins ten or twenty years ago then he would just kind of disappear. Now we follow him and tag him as a "transfer" when he ends up Hickory Junior College as he tries to claw his way to Big State.

The NCAA has limited the hardship waiver which has mitigated a great deal of movement of players being able to play right away because uncle Remus is suffering from gout back home. The detractors of the college transfer market are right in the regards that there is free agency when it comes to fifth year players and it's becoming a crisis among the mid-major ranks. Look no farther than former Drexel Dragon Damion Lee who was recruited by seemingly every major program this spring before ending up at Louisville.

Most of the times you'll see a mid-major coach shrug and take the high road but that wasn't the case for Bruiser Flint who was honest with ESPN's Dana O'Neil saying everything that likely every coach in his situation is really thinking:

"I got coaches calling, 'Hey do you think we have a shot with him?' I'm like, 'Man I don't want to help you out.' This is a guy who was going to be really good for me. Not just good, but really good,'' Flint said. "I get it. Coaches are doing what they do, but I'm not going to be like, 'Yeah, let me help you take my guy.''

"The thing is, you develop a kid and all of a sudden he's going somewhere else,'' Flint said. "He wants to go to play at a higher level, but he went to Drexel for a reason -- because he wasn't recruited at that level. He wasn't a player at that level. Now he is, but we helped him get there and now that he is, he's out.''

"Look we all know this isn't about getting a degree,'' Flint said. "They aren't doing this to get a master's degree.''

Flint is right, in most cases this isn't about getting an advanced degree. Some guys do it right but others have to go out of their way to find a graduate offering that their current school doesn't offer. Former Longwood forward Jeylani Dublin is a great example of someone who did it the right way. He was redshirted as a freshman walk-on to develop, graduated in four years with a great academic record, and then moved on to Iona to pursue a graduate degree close to home while playing one season for the Gaels.

There is no reciprocal here like regular transferring where a uber-talented guy may drop to a mid-major for many reasons. Most mid-majors don't have the graduate course offerings of large Power 5 institutions and thus can't compete in the one year immediate rental market. I spoke with one head coach at a mid-major in the South this past week who said the current graduate transfer market is killing him and he's now had parents of signed recruits approach him asking that they redshirt his son so he can play one year at a higher level. That's when you know things are getting out of hand.

The NCAA needs to make a change, this isn't about getting a degree it's about basketball and it's crushing mid-majors. Bruiser Flint got it right but at least he's not Gary Waters at Cleveland State who has lost stars Bryn Forbes, Trey Lewis, and Anton Grady all in the last year to Michigan State, Louisville, and Wichita State. There's not telling what he would say candidly in a private moment.