It's nearly been a full day and I still can't wrap my head around the latest news coming from the NCAA. Georgetown big man Josh Smith was granted immediate eligibility on Wednesday evening and was granted a Seasons of Competition Waiver for the 2012-13 season.
Ok, so what does that actually mean?
Smith played his first two seasons at UCLA and then played six games for the Bruins last season before deciding to transfer. The Kent, Washington native looked at several schools before selecting Georgetown. He didn't transfer because he graduated and he didn't transfer because some distant relative got the flu.
It appeared that Smith would have just one season of eligibility and he wouldn't be able to play until the semester break. Now Smith, who plays in the newly formed (with a newly signed TV deal) Big East, will be able to play immediately and have two full years of eligibility.
My initial thoughts moved to Keith Carter. The Valparaiso sophomore played four games for St. Louis last season before deciding to transfer. He weighed several options before choosing Valparaiso. If Smith, who has already played two seasons and change for UCLA gets immediate eligibility, why not Carter? Why not any transfer student-athlete?
The answer is there is no answer. Every transfer case is different and the NCAA weighs every case differently. It appears, at least according to national media reports, that Smith faced belittlement from teammates and former UCLA coach Ben Howland because of weight issues. Is this enough to get him a waiver? If that's the case, then every player in the country will soon claim belittlement from teammates and unfair criticism from coaches.
I spoke to several people Wednesday night concerning this case and the general consensus is that all transfer rulings come down to circumstantial situations. If circumstances arise that are out of a player's control, then a waiver may be granted.
Ok, I can buy that, but this brings me back to Keith Carter. He was recruited to St. Louis by the late Rick Majerus. The legendary coach went so far as to compare Carter to the NBA's Andre Miller. Carter was set to play for Majerus before he died. Isn't that a circumstance that was out of Carter's control? Couldn't one argue that the death of the coach that recruited him was enough to make Carter want to leave St. Louis?
My guess is every coach in the country is calling their compliance department today asking for answers and wondering why their transfer students have to sit while Smith is able to play right away. Given the confidentiality of the case, my guess is we'll never hear from the NCAA as to why Smith is able to play right away. They'll be too busy cashing checks from the Big East television deal.