Big South restricting Messiah Thompson proves some college basketball transfer rules still need to be tweaked


Previously, college basketball players — unlike most other NCAA-sanctioned sports — couldn’t be immediately eligible to play for the first time. In addition, it was customary to prohibit any transfer within the same league.

Then the NCAA changed its position on this in 2021.

Thank goodness those days are over, aren’t they?


There are still two leagues that ban intra-conference moves, preventing all of their student-athletes from transferring within their leagues without having to sit out a full year. These leagues: the Deep South and SoCon.

This brings us to the dilemma of Messiah Thompson. He has spent the past three seasons playing for the Campbell Fighting Camels. His second season was his best. Thompson, a 5-foot-8 point guard, averaged 8.4 points and 2.1 assists on 40 percent shooting from 3 points. He could have been transferred a year ago. I debated it. Decided to stay. His junior season didn’t go as well (8.1 points, 2.0 assists on 32% 3-point shooting with slightly less playing time). On March 16, Thompson listed his name on the transfer portal and two schools contacted first. One of them quickly lost contact after another ringleader hastily engaged. Thompson watched the NCAA Tournament come and go and waited to see if another school would find it with genuine interest.

On April 12, three others contact him, including Radford… who is in the Deep South. This means that as of now, Thompson is unable to transfer there and automatically be eligible to play.

“It surprised me,” Thompson said. “Right now I want to go somewhere I’m wanted, and I’m not saying Radford is the only one who wants me or I want to go, I just want to have them as an option.”

Radford could be Thompson’s best opportunity. Thompson’s father, Jermaine, told CBS Sports that Radford requested a waiver on Monday. The period for examining the request for derogation is normally two weeks. Will the Great South approve the derogation? League commissioner Kyle Kallander told CBS Sports that there have been several athletes in various sports in recent years who have requested an intra-league waiver.

All were rejected.

“We continue to evaluate the rule,” Kallander said, adding later, “we are reviewing [it] in a different light than we have in the past.”

That could be encouraging, but Kallander also said he wouldn’t comment on the details of an eligibility case. Why is this rule still in effect to begin with? A source told CBS Sports that many league presidents want to overturn the Deep South policy – they just don’t have all the votes yet.

“We are obviously evaluating this very carefully and had a lot of discussion about this last year when the NCAA changed the transfer rule,” Kallander said. “One of the great things about the Deep South is that we’re very collegial. There’s a lot of mutual respect and a lot of working together. Our presidents were concerned that the removal of intra-conference transfer would have an impact. There were concerns about poaching, school/team relationships There can certainly be legitimate reasons for student-athletes to make these moves beyond just a desire to move from one team to another, so ultimately our presidents have decided not to make a change at this time because of these concerns.”

The Great South will meet again on June 2 and may well change the rule this year. But Thompson can’t afford to wait another seven weeks. He can barely wait for two more, lest his opportunities in other programs be taken by other soon-to-join Portal players. To be clear, Campbell signed the transfer. Radford obviously wants Thompson. It shouldn’t be complicated.

“Given the current environment, it’s certainly worth reviewing our process and how we assess these waivers,” Kallander said. “We’ll be talking with our compliance committee about what those extenuating circumstances are, should there be more specificity about that with the current environment?”

To put it plainly: the era of restricting transfers for the first time in all circumstances should be over. It’s a wonder it’s something that has yet to be addressed in 2022. The Deep South looks bad here no matter if the player is a Campbell hoop or a bench player in women’s soccer or the men’s stick. Now, Thompson isn’t Radford-or-bust. He hasn’t even decided to go. He’s also considering a few other schools, but Radford has a lot to offer as well. He would legitimately like to consider school as a choice, but won’t if he has to put on a red shirt.

To hear Messiah explain it, Radford might be best equipped to assess him because he’s played against – and beaten – this team many times over the past few seasons.

“I want to have options in my recruiting, and right now I feel – I don’t know where I’m going to go – but I feel like Radford is a good option for me,” Thompson said. . “For the Deep South, it’s the only conference that has that rule, I don’t think that’s fair. It’s been proven that kids are successful in other conferences. KD Johnson was traded from Georgia to Auburn and “He had a great year. In conference might be better for a kid because those coaches know your game better. Those coaches have seen me for three years. They would know me better than any other coach in a different conference.”

This is a layup. Campbell is good with it, Radford is good with it, almost every other conference is operating under new guidelines. The Deep South doesn’t try to be in stories like this, yet here we are. The only thing worse would be to reject Thompson’s waiver and willfully opt for outdated thinking and a loss of athlete power.

“Speed ​​- that’s my biggest concern,” said Jermaine Thompson. “He got out of school at the end of April. It’s pretty urgent that it happens soon. We don’t have another month.”

The league can make its decision on or before May 2, but Kallander later clarified that while the waiver process is typically two weeks, there’s no guarantee the window will be met.

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