In addition to spending the past four years as a reserve forward at Oregon State, senior Kevin McShane is also the men's basketball representative on the NCAA's Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.
As a result, I thought it would be worthwhile to get his take on several policy issues that have been in the news recently.
McShane weighs in below on the transfer epidemic in college basketball and whether coaches should have the power to restrict which schools their ex-players can contact the way Wisconsin and Tulsa have this week with Jarrod Uthoff and Jordan Clarkson. The Oregon State forward also shares his opinion on whether college athletes should be paid.
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JE: There has been a lot of hand-wringing about the abundance of transfers in college basketball in recent years and this offseason in particular. Does that concern you? And is there any rules you'd change to help curb that?
KM: There's nothing I would say needs to be changed immediately. ... I think it's important for student-athletes to be able to find the right situation for them with the coach, the team, the community the school is in. Us student-athletes, we haven't been in a position like this before. It's hard to make the right choice sometimes right off the bat. A player may choose a school because of a feeling they have or because of pressure from other sources and they get there and it's not what they expect. I think it's OK for them to change their mind because that's what college is about is learning how to grow up.
JE: Several stories have been in the news recently in which a coach has restricted which schools a transfer can contact. Do coaches have too many emotional ties to be the ones deciding where a soon-to-be-ex-player can transfer?
KM: There's definitely a lot of emotion mixed in on the coach's side and the player's side, especially if the coach has coached the player and groomed the player and all of a sudden the player wants to leave. There's going to be a lot of emotion with that. Speaking generally, if the player wants to go somewhere and it's not just to spite a coach, then it should be an option to him. I think the well-being of a student-athlete should be put ahead of a coach's personal preference.
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JE: Do you think the NCAA needs to take the power out of the coaches' hands and make a rule where, say, a kid can transfer anywhere he chooses? Or maybe anywhere outside of his former school's conference?
KM: I think it's a good idea to keep the power in the coach's hands. It's kind of like the government of the United States. The president doesn't have all the exclusive extreme power. If he wants to make a decision, he runs it by the judicial branch, the legislative branch. I think it's kind of the same thing with coaches in collegiate athletics. The coach shouldn't have extreme power in any situation, but they should have a majority of it. If a situation develops where a player wants to transfer and a coach is against it, you can have the coach, the player, a mediator and a member of the NCAA staff look at it as opposed to just player vs. coach.
JE: Explain your position about the idea of increasing the scholarship money athletes receive on a need basis. Is that something that's necessary?
KM: I think that general idea of raising the scholarship amount for a student-athlete is a serious issue that needs addressing. The cost of living, whether it's Portland or Los Angeles or New York City, prices have gone up from last year, from five years ago, from 10 years ago. It's a touchy subject, but I think it would be beneficial in most cases for student-athletes to have more money to take care of themselves and their family or learn how to budget money to prepare for life after college.
JE: Would you also advocate the idea of paying college athletes a salary of some kind, especially those in the major sports who are earning their schools money?
KM: No, I wouldn't. If we start down the road of collegiate athletes getting paid, at some point collegiate athletes are going to be signing contracts just like NBA players. Some players are paid more, some are paid less. Eventually we'll get to the point where it will be like, 'Why did we ever make this rule?' We'll be stuck in this huge pickle we can't get out of. So I think going down that road of paying collegiate athletes is a very slippery slope we want to avoid, however I do think we should definitely look at increasing the scholarship amount to help student-athletes with their finances.
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