Montana State Bobcats

FCS coach lobbies to end NCAA’s graduate transfer rule

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When quarterback Vernon Adams decided to transfer from Eastern Washington to Oregon, Montana State head coach Rob Ash said he would “cheer for him.” But the move has Ash questioning the FCS’s standing within the grand scheme of major college football.

Adams was one of the best players at the FCS level. Ash is worried that his school and others of its ilk might develop into a feeder system for much bigger programs.

“We’re Division I like the other level,” Ash said in a telephone interview, via ESPN.com. “Our guys need to start and finish at the same school. We cannot be perceived as a farm system or Triple-A ballclub or anything like that.”

A loophole in the NCAA’s rules has been exploited in recent years. A graduate student is allowed to transfer without sitting out a season if his previous school doesn’t offer graduate studies in his preferred area. It’s become a way for student-athletes to control when and where they play.

Russell Wilson made the rule famous when he transferred from North Carolina State to Wisconsin, and Adams is simply the latest example of a talented player taking advantage of the situation.

“I’m really opposed to this rule the way it’s starting to be manipulated by FBS schools,” Ash continued. “As FCS coaches, we need to lobby now to get this rule changed. It’s going to be potentially a very difficult, bad situation for FCS with really good players that we recruit, we develop, being tempted to move on for that fifth and final year.”

Fellow FCS coaches are worried they won’t get to benefit from their work with certain players.

“It’s not what the rule is intended for,” Eastern Washington coach Beau Baldwin said. “… Ultimately we feel like, you know what, we were also the ones who developed [Adams] from a level where obviously out of high school he wasn’t at that level.”

Due to Baldwin’s stance on the transfer, he won’t allow Adams to work out in the team’s facilities before his transfer is official.

The school, however, still supports Adams’ decision.

“We wish Vernon the best in his future endeavors and thank him for all that he has done for Eastern,” athletic director Bill Chaves said in a statement. “The chance for him to pursue this opportunity is certainly a unique one given the fifth-year transfer rule. We are not sure that this was the actual intent of the legislation when it was approved, but it is the rule currently in place that we and potentially other schools have to adhere to. We will continue to work through the process of this transfer based on the rule as it stands now.”