The mysterious case of David Collette

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Utah State’s transfer block is just a sample of the NCAA problems
Feature photo courtesy of USU Athletics

In a world where athletes have limited power and the overseers take copious amounts of money that the athletes produce, the NCAA has failed to serve the student-athlete’s interests once again. The Utah State Aggies have denied the transfer request of sophomore forward David Collette, who requested to leave the team before the start of this season. Initially Collette was blocked from transferring from USU to any Power 5 schools, and then the school changed the restriction to include any school to which he wanted to transfer.

Before serving a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Collette was recruited to play for former Utah State head coach Stew Morrill, who retired after the Aggies’ 2014-15 season. Collette has cited complaints against Morrill’s successor; head coach Tim Duryea, as his reason for transferring. The USU athletic program rebutted his request with a need for the program to have time to replace Collette’s scoring. As a freshman, Collette averaged 12.8 points and 5.0 rebounds per game on 59.1 percent shooting for the Aggies.

The Aggies have done a poor job of handling the request of a student-athlete attempting to look out for his best interests. Collette is making an effort to put himself in the best situation. A student-athlete is recruited to a program for any of a number of reasons including available training facilities, the institution, a coach’s system, or the coach themselves. If a coach leaves a program for some reason, it’s not uncommon to see one or multiple players transfer away from the program. Collette is trying to transfer after the coach who he originally went to play for went into retirement, a common practice among student-athletes. Institutions blocking transfer requests after a coaching change is like buying tickets to a concert, a completely different band shows up, and then you are denied a refund.

Traditional students have the choice to transfer to any institution in which they are welcome, without the approval of a department chair or dean. Student-athletes should have the ability to transfer to any program that will take them without the approval of their current athletic department. To prevent a student-athlete from transferring to a certain program, or any program at all should be considered a violation of their academic rights. Yes, they chose the program to play at that institution and signed their letter of intent, but they didn’t sign a binding four-year multi-million-dollar contract to do so.

David Collette is an example of a student attempting to make the best of a changing situation. Student-athletes are in an odd situation where their circumstances can change overnight. Why not allow them to adjust to changes in ways that help them to be most successful on the court and in the classroom? After all, they are students first.