Michigan State coach Tom Izzo made clear that he does not support immediate eligibility for athletes transferring for a second time and that he also does not trust the NCAA’s plan to restrict immediate eligibility exceptions made for two-time transfers.
Under the NCAA’s new rule from earlier this year, players who transfer for a second time will not be permitted a waiver and must sit for a season if they transfer for reasons that include a coaching change or reduced playing time. However, the association’s mandate has two caveats that would grant athletes immediate eligibility for concerns about physical and mental health or physical and sexual assault.
Appearing on ESPN’s Keyshawn, JWIll and Max show on Friday, the Spartans coach questioned if the NCAA holds athletes accountable and that some athletes will essentially “come up with a different reason” to transfer from one program to the next.
“I don't have a lot of faith in the NCAA,” Izzo said. “This waiver thing. If you’ve got a hangnail, you get a waiver. I just don’t believe in that, because I think somebody, whether it’s a lawyer, whether it’s agents, whether it’s people, they’re going to just come up with a different reason. Mental health is a big reason. I just don’t see why sitting out is such a bad thing...”
Izzo also believes that “90 percent” of the athletes who sit out are not pro-level players. But more importantly, he believes that the immediate eligibility waiver system limits the toughness and grit within players to push through adversity.
“I just think we’re hurting decisions that kids make,” Izzo said. “I mean we’ve got 1,200 [in the portal]. By Tuesday, we’ll have 1,500, and then we’re going to get a second wave of kids in the portal. And kids are going to go places that maybe it’s a little bit for the money, maybe it’s because they’re worried about beating somebody else out. We all had to beat people out ... and I think we’re losing that. Where’s the competitive edge?”
Izzo’s Michigan State squad finished third in the Big Ten, earning the No. 7 seed in the 2023 men’s NCAA tournament before losing in overtime to No. 3 Kansas State in the Sweet 16.