by Sean Begin
College sports has once again shown why the “student-athlete” concept is a myth, at least when compared to the people who run the athletics programs.
The University of Alabama recently denied women’s basketball player Daisha Simmons a transfer to Seton Hall because it would leave Alabama without a scholarship.
For those unfamiliar with the story, Simmons was a stand-out prep player in New Jersey who spent her first year in college ball on the Rutgers teams. She then transferred to Alabama, where she finished out her undergraduate degree, graduating last December.
Simmons decided to pursue her MBA, but since Alabama didn’t accept her into it’s program, she transferred to Seton Hall, hoping to earn her master’s while playing her final year of eligibility for the Pirates.
There was also a deeper reason for this move. Simmons’ brother is the final stage of chronic kidney disease, known as end-stage renal disease. He requires constant dialysis treatment while he waits for a kidney transplant.
Simmons’ mother works two jobs, so she decided to move back close to home to help her family out while still going to school and playing basketball.
But Alabama’s women’s basketball head coach Kristy Curry and athletic director Bill Battle blocked Simmons’ transfer, meaning she could practice with and keep the scholarship she was given by Seton Hall, but she can’t compete in games with her team.
“This shouldn’t be happening,” Simmons said to the New York Daily News.
And she’s right.
It’s not like Simmons is still a student at Alabama. She’s graduated. And she was denied entry into the MBA program there. If she wants to continue her education somewhere else, she has every right. And if she wants to play basketball somewhere else, Alabama shouldn’t be allowed to stop her.
This, however, is not the first case of a women’s basketball player being denied transfer.
Earlier this year, Kansas State attempted to block the transfer of Leticia Romero. After public outrage, Kansas State relented and gave Romero her transfer. She now plays for Florida State. Before that was Sydney Moss and Florida.
After her freshman year at the University of Florida, Moss wanted to transfer somewhere closer to home. Florida denied her. Not only did they deny her from transferring to a rival school, they denied her from transferring to any Division I institution.
Again, after public outrage, Moss was allowed to transfer to any school except Kentucky. She chose a Division III school in Kentucky showing, as Mike Robinson writes on SB Nation, “that all she cared about was being happy and close to her mother.”
The unfairness of Simmons’ situation is cast in an even harsher light when looking at her coach.
Kristy Curry was able to leave Purdue University for Texas Tech in 2006, despite the fact that Purdue’s women’s basketball was under investigation for violations. Then, after seven years ar Texas Tech with little success, she was able to up and leave for Alabama.
Yet, a player who only wants to continue her education while playing a simple sport, is being denied by the same person (and her superiors) who have no problem jumping ship when necessary.
It speaks to the broken system college athletes exist in that Simmons isn’t being allowed to compete. The worst part is that the NCAA thinks it’s solved the problem by saying Simmons can play next year for Seton Hall.
These archaic and inane rules should be destroyed but until then, the NCAA should step in and just let Simmons play this year.