If you haven’t heard the news quarterback Russell Wilson, previously of N.C. State Wolfpack fame, will play his last year of eligibility at the University of Wisconsin. Wilson received a Bachelors degree in communications at N.C. State and is now set to take advantage of the graduate-student exception rule.
The rule allows players who have already graduated to transfer into a school and have immediate eligibility to play their final season but as soon as October the rule will be eliminated in the SEC.
The SEC has become disgruntled over players previously receiving their diploma somewhere else and coming to their schools for only one year. You can call is the Jeremy Masoli effect.
Yet, the same SEC has no issues with one-and-done first year athletes like, John Wall, who only enroll for freshman year then turn pro. Seems a tad biased, no?
The grad-student exception is one of the best rules the NCAA created because it is one of the only ones that offers a positive incentive for athletes. When athletes only attend college as a lay-over into the professional world of sports, this rule encourages athletes to stay in school even longer and further pursue other academic interests and possible degrees. For the SEC to take that away as a punishment seems incontrovertible.
What is so perplexing about this decision is that this rule does not apply to every player. It applies to the ones who make a degree a priority. So why is the SEC so discontent? Are they mad athletes are attending school for an actual education?
Peyton Manning finished his college degree in three years yet instead of entering the draft even though he was slated to be the top overall pick, he stayed a fourth year and pursued a Masters degree. He didn’t lose out on anything by staying an extra year rather than jumping the gun into pro football.
Realistically, not everyone who turns pro has a success story that leads to a lasting career. A chance for them to receive not only a Bachelors but a Masters degree with the same incentive to play ball should be applauded rather than taken away.
For more on Wilson and the transfer rule, check out Andy Staples' SI article on the subject.