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UND's Brian Jones leery of NCAA's potential transfer change

GRAND FORKS—If it were up to the University of North Dakota men's basketball coach Brian Jones, the NCAA would tighten transfer rules.

But that doesn't appear to be the direction the NCAA is headed because it currently is mulling a loosening of transfer restrictions as it grapples with athlete well-being and the power indifference between coaches and athletes.

The Division I Transfer Working Group met earlier this week in Indianapolis and now is seeking feedback on the types of changes to implement.

"I don't like that it's too easy for kids to leave," Jones said. "To me, it's a problem in men's basketball. When you're having a 2-to-1 ratio of kids transferring, it's a problem."

The NCAA has backed off previous reports of possible wide-open transferring, meaning a player would have no stipulations about changing schools. Currently, a transferring men's basketball player typically has to sit out one academic year before playing.

The NCAA, however, is considering broadening the exceptions to the one-year sit rule.

One area likely to pass through the NCAA's rules is allowing players to transfer freely if a coach leaves for another program.

"I understand that," Jones said.

Another potential exception to the transfer rule would be tied to a player's academic standing, such as their grade-point average.

The NCAA also would like to create some uniformity in transfer rules instead of the change from sport to sport. In a sport such as volleyball, for example, athletes already can use a one-time exception to transfer without sitting out a season at the new school.

UND has both been hurt and helped by transfers recently. Off last season's NCAA tournament team, UND lost graduate transfers Carson Shanks to Loyola Chicago and Drick Bernstine to Washington State.

Shanks and Bernstine took advantage of the one-year sit exception granted to players who have graduated but still have athletic eligibility remaining.

The Fighting Hawks also have two transfers in the current starting lineup. Graduate transfer Dale Jones of Iowa has started 23 games, averaging 11.5 points and 6.6 rebounds. Marlon Stewart of Creighton, who sat out last season, has started 24 games and is averaging 11.8 points.

"We took advantage of the grad transfer this year, but I don't think it's good for our sport," Jones said. "At our level, it's about four-year kids and developing those kids and nurturing them. We have to bring stability back to our sport."

As a result of the recent spike in graduate transfers, Jones said teams, including UND, are forced to shy away from redshirting a player with the concern that the player would graduate transfer after a junior season.

"That's sad," Jones said. "If you redshirt, like Drick and Shanks, when you lose those guys, it kills your program and your momentum. That's where I struggle with that. It's the kids at our level that chase the bigger fish. There's more planning in recruiting and whether to redshirt when it really should be about getting the most out of kids, including academically."

Tom Miller

Miller has been with the Grand Forks Herald sports department since 2004. He's also a Grand Forks native and UND graduate. 

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