In recent years, college basketball players have begun to transfer schools with abandon.
Signing a letter of intent used to be one of the most important moments of a high school basketball player’s life.
Instead, it has turned into an initial commitment that does not necessarily require follow through.
But what happens to coaches that do the same thing? College basketball coaches have begun to change teams just as often as the players.
The chief question then becomes whether or not college basketball coaches should be penalized in the same manner as the players.
Well, yes, they should.
Coaches who switch schools with no thought to their players or the program (I am not talking about coaches who are fired) should have to sit out a year just like the players do.
And here is why.
There is no reason to think that college basketball coaches are any more honest than the players they coach.
It is certainly not the case for all coaches, but many are simply looking for the next paycheck and the next recruiting coup.
If a coach bolts a good job simply to try and put himself in a better situation, he should be penalized just like a player who does exactly the same thing.
A coach who leaves a solid job—such as Frank Martin bolting from the Kansas State Wildcats to take the South Carolina Gamecocks job—should have to endure exactly the same consequences as a player who makes the same choice.
Often, a coach’s motives in switching schools is worse than a player's. More often than not, coaches promise players that they will stay when their mind and heart is somewhere else.
If coaches were more upfront with their players, there would not be such a need for this type of penalty.
It makes perfect sense that a coach might not have completely made a decision yet or might not be ready to tell anyone that he is leaving, but there is a difference between telling a player that he is unsure of what he is going to do and telling that player that he is definitely staying.
Too many coaches fail to realize that distinction.
One of the foremost jobs of college basketball coaches is to recruit.
Each and every year, college basketball coaches are expected to bring the best players to their school, often as a result of the playing time and fame the players are promised.
Coaches who are not able to follow through on their promises, either to their current recruits or past ones, should be penalized.
How are future players supposed to trust a coach who promises to give them playing time, individual workouts and who knows what else, if those promises are not delivered?
With coaches jumping ship right and left, it makes it harder for recruits to decide on a school. High school players often depend on the personality of a coach to help them make a college decision.
If that coach then goes back on the many things he told a recruit in a personal meeting, it becomes that much harder for skilled high school players to choose a college.
If the NCAA enacted a rule to force coaches to sit out a year after changing schools, they might think twice about making so many promises to recruits, especially if they are not able to keep them.
Like it or not, college basketball has become a league overrun with media attention. Reporters are interviewing players, coaches and everyone in between.
The increased presence of reporters leads to more and more questions, many of which can be uncomfortable.
However, college basketball coaches only make the attention worse by answering those questions incorrectly.
Every time a coach says one thing and then does another, news stations across the country are instantly aware of the disparity. In turn, that makes the media more likely to accost the coaches, making them increasingly more comfortable.
Sure, it’s a catch-22 situation. The problem is that coaches are feeding into the problem more than they are working to solve it.
When a coach lies to the media—no matter the reason—he is compromising the integrity of college basketball. Mike Anderson told reporters that he wanted to coach the Missouri Tigers until he retired. Days later, he left to coach the Arkansas Razorbacks
Give coaches an incentive to be honest—force them to sit out a year if they lie to the media and switch schools.
There is a reason that coaches like Mike Krzyzewski and Tom Izzo continue to excel in the recruiting game.
Parents and players alike consider coaches to be good examples for their young children.
In theory, coaches have taken their lumps, often played college basketball and emerged better for their experience.
What better example could a young basketball player have than someone who has been through the wars and emerged as a well-respected individual?
When a player and his family commit the next four years (theoretically) of their lives to a coach and a program, the general consensus is that the player will be in good hands.
So then what if they are not?
Exactly, say the many families of scorned college players.
If college coaches are so widely considered examples for the players they coach, then they should be held responsible for their decisions.
As the saying goes, the grass is always greener on the other side.
It is hard to imagine that college basketball coaches do not feel that way constantly.
Year in and year out, they are forced to endure questions about job security, recruits and team building exercises.
On the other hand, other schools are often calling, promising them bigger facilities, better players and simply a more enviable situation.
The decision seems slightly difficult until one starts to think about the players.
Sure, college coaches are sometimes mistreated and unappreciated and forced to deal with crazy media scrutiny, but that, unfortunately, comes with the job. And what about the teenage players that depend on those coaches for their future?
If coaches were forced to sit out a probationary year, perhaps they would think harder about those players that they would be leaving behind.