FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – There are numerous reports that Arkansas coach Eric Musselman is out once again scrounging around the transfer portal looking to see if he can scoop up one last player who might slide the Razorbacks into that coveted No. 1 recruiting class slot.
There is nothing in Musselman’s history, nor surrounding the current transfer portal environment, that would lead anyone to believe this isn’t the case. However, to do so, Musselman will have to further turn over his roster from the previous Elite 8 team.
What this leads Arkansas into is a question of duty versus ethics. Coaches are bound by their universities to do whatever they can to put a potential national championship team on the floor.
That’s the business side of college athletics.
But how well does that line up with a true coach’s heart?
To bring in this recruiting class, several tough conversations have needed to be had to encourage players to look elsewhere because athletes thought to be of higher caliber were coming in to take their spot.
That’s literally how the NCAA system is set up. It’s intentionally designed to make it as easy as possible to run players off.
Scholarships are only good for a single year. As long as a coach lets a player know a scholarship will no longer be available for that player the following year by July 1, and the athlete chooses not to appeal, then the young man or woman who made a commitment to the university and that coach can be thrown to the wayside.
They then have to venture out into the transfer portal where there are way more players on the list than opportunities. It’s abandonment in a harsh way.
It’s hard to reconcile telling a kid they’re not wanted anymore and that the friends they have made and the relationships they have built with their professors, teammates and coaches are all coming to an end. Coaches are supposed to build up young men and women, but the current system says otherwise.
For many who fought through difficult circumstances to earn a shot at an education, it will mean the end of a dream. They will be stuck in limbo between not being able to afford to finish their academic journey with their scholarship now gone, while also having tasted what life could be away from what they fought so hard to overcome.
The mental aspect of what goes on for these young men and women when they find themselves caught up in the big business that is NCAA basketball is devastating. At some point the rejection and extreme emotion that goes into being kicked to the curb by a coach or university is going to result in a price that should never be paid.
How many national championships and top recruiting classes is that worth?
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These aren’t jersey numbers on a roster. These are young men and women whose lives are getting turned upside down by a system that appears more anxious to chew them up and spit them out than at any point in college basketball history.
If Musselman lands another 5-star transfer and Jaylin Williams comes strolling back through the door, Arkansas fans will cheer and begin counting down the days until the new season starts.
But just remember, the price for that was most likely another young man being told his scholarship won’t be renewed and that he must give up the friends he made and the aspirations he had as a Razorback. He’s now just a disposable piece in the system.
There’s something so wrong with that. But a coach has an obligation by duty to ignore what should be in his heart.
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