The following article appears in the Fall 2017 edition of NABC Time-Out Magazine. To view the entire Fall 2017 issue, click here.
Phil Martelli, head coach at Saint Joseph's University and a past president of the NABC, is a member of the NCAA Division I Transfer Working Group. The group is in the process of working on a comprehensive package of concepts intended to improve the transfer environment for college athletes, coaches and teams in Division I. He provided his insight on the group's progress with Time-Out Magazine.
How did you get involved with the Transfer Working Group? Why do you believe it is an important committee to serve on?
"I was selected through the NABC and the A-10 conference because this issue has been of interest to me. The work of this group will have an impact on the transfer landscape for a long time, and I believe that all coaches have a responsibility not only to the student-athletes and teams but also to the game as a whole. This issue impacts the game."
What has the Transfer Working Group discussed to-date?
"We’ve had great discussions about a number of issues, but it’s important to know that work has just begun. We will continue to seek input on our ideas, including permission to contact, postgraduate eligibility and academics-based uniform rules."
The Transfer Working Group is very diverse, with administrators, coaches and student-athletes representing all levels of Division I. Why is it important to have a variety of perspectives in the room?
"We also have faculty members. Every member of the working group thinks about the issue a little differently, and the more perspectives we have, the better the end result will be."
The Division I National Student-Athlete Advisory Committee has offered its input to the Transfer Working Group. What value does SAAC’s voice bring to the legislative process?
"The student-athlete voice is of paramount importance. Our goal is to create rules that support an excellent college experience for student-athletes, both academically and athletically, and what matters to them is crucial."
Academic opportunities and sport-related competitive factors are often presented as being at odds in the transfer debate. How can academics and athletics be properly balanced when developing new transfer rules?
"The working group is guided by a set of principles from the Division I Board of Directors, including focusing on athletics in the context of higher education and keeping the academic success of transfer student-athletes as a priority. At SAAC’s recommendation, we also are considering carefully the impact on a team when a student-athlete decides to transfer. We have to balance the interests of all student-athletes."
Transfer rules differ significantly from conference to conference. Do you believe that uniform transfer policies would be a preferable model for Division I?
"Our charge is to strive for uniform standards unless research or data indicates otherwise. However, it’s important to note that the working group has no authority over conference rules and can only encourage conferences to examine their policies."
Permission to contact and postgraduate eligibility rules are key topics that the Transfer Working Group has been charged with reviewing. As they currently stand, do you believe these rules are in need of change?
"We are looking at both of those issues, and are very interested in the feedback our survey will glean. I think everyone can agree that the negative attention placed on college sports, and particularly our sport, related to transfer is not good for the game."
Several men’s basketball transfer situations have received substantial media coverage recently – with some negative press directed at the coaches. As coaches, how can we better educate media and the public about our commitment to serving best interests of student-athletes?
"Coaches need to underscore their commitment to the academic and athletic success of the students they coach in a public way. If we lay a strong foundation, our credibility will be stronger."
What do you hope the Transfer Working Group ultimately achieves?
"We are focused on supporting the academic success of both graduate and undergraduate student-athletes who wish to transfer as well as minimizing the impact on teams and student-athletes who do not transfer. If we keep both those goals in mind, we will be successful."