Maryland allowing Danny O’Brien to transfer to any school should be a model for every school

Dan Wetzel
Yahoo! Sports

After intense backlash, the University of Maryland did the honorable thing Wednesday and announced that quarterback Danny O'Brien and other players were free to transfer to any school they choose.

That includes Vanderbilt, where O'Brien likely wants to follow former Maryland offensive coordinator turned Commodores head coach James Franklin. Maryland has filed a tampering charge against Vanderbilt on O'Brien, which is the school's right. So we'll see where this ends up.

Maryland had it all wrong by placing stipulations on where a player could transfer and have an immediate scholarship. And while the Terrapins and their public relations-challenged head coach, Randy Edsall, have been blasted for the move, it's indicative of college athletics as a whole.

This was mostly standard operating procedure, where schools routinely ban transfers to fellow conference members, other in-state schools, future opponents and anyone else they arbitrarily select.

It's wrong. Every single time.

The NCAA should allow any player to transfer to any school they want. Period. And the player should be eligible to play the following academic year, eliminating the one-year sit-out rule.

Let the players go where they want – the same way coaches, athletic directors and everyone else can.

If anything, let Maryland's delayed reaction to doing what's right become the model for how colleges should conduct themselves all the time.

"While at first I thought it was important to limit the institutions to which they could transfer … at the end of the day, I want what's best for these guys," Edsall said in a statement.

Roll your eyes at this come-to-the-truth-moment, but don't let the (forced) verbiage just slip by. Shouldn't everyone want what's best for these guys?

[ Related: Danny O'Brien is free to transfer where he pleases ]

College athletics likes to paint itself as just an extra-curricular pursuit. It has "student-athletes," not players. It's "not-for-profit," even as the football stadium seats 100,000. It believes in the "academic calendar," even with midweek games for television partners and new geographically expansive conferences.

All the talk allows it to pay no taxes and pay no players. It provides the same deal it always has: tuition and room and board, which may have been a decent deal in the 1920s but is lunacy as one side has grown revenue and salaries exponentially and the other hasn't improved its lot much at all. There was no Big Ten Network in Red Grange's day.

You can't claim you're running the Little League and then demand to be paid like you're running the New York Yankees the way coaches and athletic directors do.

And you certainly can't claim your players are just simple college kids and then place restrictions and non-compete clauses (that have never been individually or collectively bargained) as if this is corporate America.

It's one or the other. It's also why the often-expressed solution to "pay the players" is too simple. Should they be paid? Absolutely. But between zero and 100 there is plenty of room to help the system cruise along comfortably.

Letting a player who no longer wants to attend one school to freely move to another (under full scholarship) would be one improvement.

The NCAA stands for "National Collegiate Athletic Association" and it's a voluntary group that likes to consider itself in totality. It has some noble goals and some truly positive benefits, education being first and foremost.

As a collective body, made up of so many schools – it often refers to itself as the "Association" – it should merely matter that a Danny O'Brien has the opportunity to earn an education, not where that education takes place. As a national, borderless group, one school is not better than another.

They are all partners. They are all one in the same. They are all teammates on this grand experiment.

Or so they tell the IRS.

Putting restrictions on transfers is a purely athletic decision. It's callous. It's heavy-handed. It's unnecessarily competitive.

Randy Edsall didn't want his team to play against his former quarterback, so he was free to make it as difficult as possible for O'Brien to attend a future opponent.

If the NCAA is what it claims it is, why should that be a consideration? It's just a game. One player switching teams and returning to beat his former team isn't going to topple Maryland or college athletics as a whole.

It would actually bring some honesty to the pursuit.

[ Related: QB Danny O'Brien's departure from Maryland no surprise ]

If a Duke basketball player wants to transfer to North Carolina, let him: full ride, full blessing. If an Alabama player wants to bounce over to Auburn, wish him well.

A player couldn’t switch teams in the middle of the season and immediately become eligible. Tampering should also remain outlawed, which is why Maryland has every right to complain about Vanderbilt.

Other than that, free the players.

Maryland behaved poorly in the Danny O'Brien case. The truth is it didn't behave much differently than every other school in the country.

The Terps have since figured out they were wrong. Now let them be the example to everyone else of what's right.

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