By Jimmy Hyams
The NCAA denied an appeal to grant Tennessee center Uros Plavsic immediate eligibility.
Considering at the time that 54 of 62 men’s college basketball players had been declared eligible right away – including Kentucky transfer Quade Green (a Philadelphia native) to Washington after he’d played the first half of last season in Lexington – it’s head-scratching to rule against Plavsic.
A 7-foot transfer from Arizona State, Plavsic is from Serbia, played high school ball at Hamilton Heights in Chattanooga, went to Arizona State with his high school coach, redshirted, then left the Sun Devils when his coaching friend (also from Serbia) was not retained.
Seemed like a simple case.
Apparently, it wasn’t.
So why did the NCAA say no to Plavsic?
We don’t know for sure, other than to say he didn’t meet the criteria.
That prompted Tennessee athletic director Phillip Fulmer to fire off a strongly worded statement questioning the NCAA’s decision and saying UT would continue its appeal.
In a recent interview on WNML’s Sports Talk show, Fulmer was asked if he would like more transparency from the NCAA over its transfer rulings.
“Yeah, I would,” Fulmer said. “I was not very happy as to what happened to Uros. I said that. And we are still working on a couple of things.
“You know, the NCAA has absolutely created a mess and they cannot win.
“They are not going to win whenever they deny a young person that probably deserves an opportunity to go on and play.’’
Fulmer said there are cases when a transfer probably needs to sit out, “but to try and be the judge and jury there in Indianapolis and to farm it out to committees that aren’t even your peers often times, I don’t think it is the right way to go.
“Surely they will address this and get a handle on it. If we are going to do this, let’s get it better.’’
Fulmer had another concern about the NCAA’s handling of transfers.
“I’m okay as long as there is consistency,’’ Fulmer said. “There hasn’t been a lot of consistency. My struggle is, I’m looking at it as a coach … roster management is very important.’’
Fulmer isn’t a fan of allowing a one-time transfer for immediate eligibility.
“Maybe there is a good player that is a redshirt freshman or sophomore,’’ Fulmer said, “but between him and his parents or other outside influences or other schools kind of talking to him, if he makes a decision to leave that early, that doesn’t sit well with me.’’
Fulmer said he is in favor of the graduate transfer rule but not what some coaches are referring to as free agency in the college ranks, with freshmen and sophomores routinely leaving the school with which they signed.
“This kind of `leave when you want to,’ I don’t like that, really,’’ he said.
The Plavsic case is now in the hands of the Division I Committee for Legislative Relief.
It is considered a “body of your peers.’’
It includes an assistant athletic director for compliance from Rutgers, an associate commissioner of the Pac-12, a female a senior associate athletic director for compliance at Virginia Tech, a faculty representative at UTEP, director of compliance at James Madison, a senior women’s administrator at Monmouth University and a senior associate commissioner of the Atlantic-Sun Conference.
They will examine the Plavsic appeal and decide if Plavsic has to sit a year at Tennessee.
And they don’t have to explain their decision.