Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Transfer Issue Resolved? Or "Little Orphan Animal Husbandry"

I could go on and on about academic "restrictions" and about what they actually are and what that impact actually is on athletics and the university. But I have done that before and chances are that if you are reading this, you already know. But the fact is that SMU football and basketball get precious few transfers in comparison to its "natural and traditional rivals" (whoever you think that may be).

It was rare that any I-A or JuCo athlete could transfer to SMU and be eligible for a scholarship to SMU. We have heard the stories of the Northwestern University transfer that wanted to come to SMU; the Navy student; the Juco quarterbacks.

Junior college transfers are needed to fill immediate needs and add depth. Likewise, I-A transfers, despite the fact that they must sit out a year, are another avenue from which to recruit those players that qualified academically but chose another institution that they desire to leave for one reason or another, be it lack of playing time, coaching change, homesickness, you name it.

The problem with recruiting these students to SMU has always been that even if the student could get into SMU, they would rarely have the credits to transfer to SMU in the numbers necessary to qualify for a scholarship under the NCAA rules. The SMU rule was that if SMU did not offer the course, the credits did not transfer. In SMU administrative lingo, these were referred to as "orphan courses." Ergo, the title of this article: a student athlete that took three hours of Animal Husbandry would get zero credit when he transferred to SMU. The same goes for education courses, kineseology courses, sports management courses, contemporary Baltic language courses and a host of others. One class would make little difference, but as far as many transferees were concerned, the number of courses that would not transfer started piling up.

Well, all that has changed. On February 15, 2006, the Faculty Senate approved a resolution awarding of free-elective transfer credit for appropriate courses completed with a grade of C– or better at regionally accredited colleges or universities, even if there is no equivalent discipline at SMU.

From the resolution:
The changes we made will encourage prospective transfer students who have earned credits in disciplines not offered here to add SMU to their list of schools for consideration,
We can now compete more successfully with other schools for these transfers. The message is that we will not automatically decline credit for legitimate academic courses earned elsewhere just because we don't teach that discipline at SMU.

That is the "carrot," the stick is that a faculty committee will evaluate orphan courses for transferability on a case by case basis. Referrals to the committee will be made by Enrollment Services, the Dedman Records office, the Athletics Department, the Registrar's office, or any academic department or division.

Bottom line is that this means more transferrable hours for transfer students, which means more student-athletes will have more transferrable hours and will be eligible per the NCAA rules. This means there is a bigger pool of transfers from which to recruit. This is a good move. Now let's see how it plays out.

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