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Grad Transfers Positively Impact Mid-Level Teams

Allowing eligible student-athletes to transfer schools is beneficial for both parties

CUSA Football Championship - Louisiana Tech v Marshall Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

One mention of the graduate transfer exception and opinions start flying. We could talk about the pros and cons of grad transfers all day, but what it really comes down to is if it’s beneficial to the student-athletes and the program as a whole.

If you aren’t familiar with the grad transfer rule there are many facets involved, but for the most part it’s one of the few NCAA regulations that gives student-athletes the possibility to continue their academic and athletic career after they complete their bachelor’s degree if they have remaining eligibility.

It’s safe to assume most college athletes don’t just wake up spring semester senior year planning to attend grad school if football was their main passion all along. Transferring post-bachelors is typically a decision based on football to improve status and gain exposure.

If a player put in their four years in undergrad, earned their degree, and they still have a semester to a year of eligibility they have technically fulfilled their contract and should be able to play wherever they please. The goal for most grad transfers is getting more time on the field, playing at a higher level, or they simply just want a fresh start (even if it only lasts for a year.)

"A rising tide lifts all boats" definitely rings true in this case. A great player transferring to Georgia State from an SEC school for example will bring more attention to themselves through boosted playing time and the team might be gaining something they were lacking the previous season. Skeptics say this rule causes smaller programs to take a hit when players run off to bigger teams, but again isn’t this all about what’s in the best interest for the individual player?

The reason why this has become a discussion is because stats show most grad transfers leave after their athletic eligibility ends. This begs the question on the real reason athletes transfer to begin with. Even if stats show most student-athletes don’t complete their graduate degrees I still believe it’s beneficial for them to complete their final athletic year as they see fit. For some players it’s a chance to prove themselves at a mid-level school and for others it’s a last-ditch effort to land an NFL offer.

Look at Marshall’s newest corner back, Terry Richardson. He played four years for Michigan but never cracked the starting lineup. He made ESPN’s All-American second team and played in Under Armour’s All-American Game in 2012. Standing at 5’9 and 174 pounds, he wasn’t at the same level as many of the Big Ten players, but might stand a chance in the CUSA. He’s been conditioned by a top-tier program and will be an asset to Marshall.

Jon Solomon, from CBS Sports published a very in-depth discussion on the pros and cons of NCAA grad transfer regulation including several opinions from coaches and commissioners. Solomon agrees that the grad transfer rule keeps the spotlight on the players because the game really should be focused on them.

Here are a few grad transfers that will play in the Sun Belt, CUSA, and AAC in the 2016 season:

Sun Belt

Georgia State - Connor Manning, quarterback from Utah

Georgia Southern -Micheal Summers, wide receiver from Georgia Tech

Arkansas State - Chad Voytik, quartback from Pitt

Texas State - Eddie Printz, quartback from Missouri

Conference USA

Louisiana Tech - Dalton Santos, linebacker from Texas

Marshall - Terry Richardson, corner back from Michigan

UTSA - Jared Johnson, quarterback from Sam Houston State

- Jevonte Domond, offensive tackle from LSU

- Ronnie Feist, linebacker from LSU

- Jordan Jones, tight end from Gardner-Webb

Western Kentucky - Nick Dawson-Brents, linebacker from Louisville

- Keith Brown, linebacker from Louisville

- Tyler Ferguson, quarterback from Louisville

- Steve Donatell, tight end from Wake Forest

American Athletic Conference

East Carolina - Jeffrey Coprich, running back from California