Transfer Eligibility Shows the NCAA is Not For its Athletes

Cassandra Twining@cass_twining

According to the home page of the NCAA’s website, they have three main priorities when it comes to their student-athletes. Academics, well being, and fairness. Although, based on recent events; it seems to bring into question if they truly care about the well being of their student-athletes. The NCAA continues to claim that they are here to keep college sports safe. “Today, we work hard to promote safety, excellence, and physical and mental well-being for student-athletes.” They also boast their emphasis on fairness and that every student “deserves a fair shot.” Actions speak louder than words though. Issues with Brock Hoffman’s transfer eligibility waiver shows how the NCAA does not quite put their mission statement into practice.

Brock Hoffman’s Story

Let’s ask Brock Hoffman, an offensive lineman transferring to Virginia Tech this Fall. Many times when a student transfers it’s because the chances of starting and making a name for themselves are slim. However, this was not the reasoning for Hoffman’s transfer.  Hoffman’s mom has an Acoustic Neuroma that resides on a nerve in her brain. As a result, she is suffering from facial paralysis, hearing loss, loss of sight, and many more issues that will continue to affect her for the rest of her life.

Like many of us would want to, Hoffman wanted to be closer to his mom and family to help support and care for them in this time of need. Let’s not forget that Brock is still an up and coming athlete with a bright future, headed to a well known D1 University, so he obviously would like to be able to hit the ground running and be able to play for them. Which is why he requested a medical family hardship waiver to gain eligibility upon his transfer to VT.

According to AthNet a website specifically designed to help guide and inform student-athletes on rules and regulations lists three things that are necessary to have an approved waiver for eligibility transfer: 1) it must be a life-threatening illness to an immediate family member (2) the student-athletes continued involvement for the care of this family member is considered (3) the condition must have gotten “worse” or had some change in diagnosis. Not stated on this website, but mentioned by Hoffman directly from his Twitter page, the school must also reside within a 100-mile radius of the family member they are wanting to care for.

The Problems:

  1. Acoustic neuromas rapidly increase in size and can prove fatal if not treated quickly and properly. Hoffman’s concern for not only his mother’s health but also for the quality of life she will be able to have after suffering from long term effects of this tumor is completely justified.
  2. The NCAA should take Hoffman’s desire to support his mother seriously regardless of if he is the sole caretaker or not. Lest we not forget he is still a full-time student and a full-time athlete. He may not be able to be her sole provider, but a desire to physically be there for emotional and physical support should be taken seriously as both have tremendous effects on the likelihood of a successful recovery.
  3. As anyone who has dealt with a sick family member knows, timelines are usually arbitrary. Doctors can certainly have an idea of what’s going to happen. However, to pretend that they can somehow accurately predict the outcome is foolish. 6 months can quickly turn into 2 days. Giving Hoffman the ability to still pursue his academic and athletic goals; while still being there for his mom should be a number one priority.
  4. 5 miles should not be the difference between a young man having to forfeit his life long career aspirations. Just because he wants something as simple as to be there for his family.

Inconsistencies with Transfer Eligibility:

Not only does Hoffman have a case based on those requirements, but the NCAA has granted transfer eligibility for much less. Tate Martell will be starting quarterback this fall due to a granted transfer eligibility waiver. Tate’s reason for transferring? A better quarterback is on his way to The Ohio State University and Martell wants to start. Nowhere on the CBS Sports webpage does it specify any special circumstances as to why Martell was able to be granted this transfer eligibility waiver, just merely that he was.

NCAA’s boasts of being “for” the students is all talk and no action. This needs to change. These young people have worked their whole lives to be where they are now. An investment like this should not become disavowed because of one organization. It is time to demand more consistent and better treatment of student-athletes all over the country. In 2017 alone the NCAA reported a revenue of 1.1 billion dollars, largely in part to those student-athletes they are mistreating. It is crucial that we no longer stay silent about the mistreatment of our aspiring young people. We must support them where the NCAA has obviously failed.


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