KCAC?s new transfer rule has an origin

Tabor College football coach Mike Gardner garnered another Coach of the Year award in the KCAC. And why not? The Bluejays finished first in the KCAC with a 9-0 record, 10-2 overall.

Actually, a good case could have been made as well for Kansas Wesleyan head coach Matt Drinkall. In his first year at KW, the Coyotes were near the bottom of the KCAC with a 2-7 record, 2-9 overall. Fast-forward one year to 2015 and KW finished second to Tabor with an 8-1 conference mark, 10-2 overall.

When a team improves that dramatically, it?s not uncommon for the coach to receive Coach of the Year honors over the coach whose team was picked to finish at or near the top.

Here?s one theory why that didn?t happen. The other KCAC coaches were less than thrilled that KW populated its roster with a number of players from other teams in the KCAC.

This year?s KW football team included four players from Bethany College, four from Friends University and three from McPherson.

The NAIA rule is that a transfer from one NAIA school to another must either have a release from the original school or sit out 16 weeks while enrolled at the new school before being eligible to compete for the new school in the sport in question.

It appears that most of these student-athletes transferred to KW in spring 2015, following the fall 2014 football season. Strange as it sounds, that made them eligible to play this past fall at KW.

I have no idea why so many student-athletes transferred to KW after the 2014 season. Maybe they didn?t think they were getting enough playing time at their current school. Maybe they talked among themselves and decided to go to KW. Who knows? Recruiting players from another school is a no-no, so we?ll give KW the benefit of the doubt and assume that the players contacted the school first.

Rest assured, the rest of the KCAC schools didn?t appreciate losing their student-athletes to KW. Want proof?

The KCAC made a new rule involving student-athletes transferring within the KCAC. Starting in spring 2016, any athlete who has identified with a KCAC school and subsequently transfers to a different KCAC school must sit out one full calendar year prior to competing at the new school. Releases are potentially granted for extenuating circumstances, but only through a unanimous vote of the KCAC General Council Executive Committee.

The NAIA rule will continue to govern this issue if the student-athlete transfers to a school outside the KCAC, or a student-athlete from outside the conference transfers to a school in the KCAC.

The new conference rule makes sense. It?s not in the best interest of colleges in the KCAC to make transferring within the conference so easy.

Would this rule change have occurred if KW hadn?t picked up 11 players from other conference schools? I don?t know, but I suspect that was the impetus for the rule change. No name was given to the rule change to my knowledge, but just for fun we can call it the KW transfer rule.

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When Tabor joined the KCAC decades ago, the school was required to play football. Times have changed. Oklahoma Wesleyan University is the newest member to join the conference, and while OWU plays most sports the other KCAC teams play, it doesn?t play football.

The additional team had an immediate effect on the basketball schedule. This is the first time I can remember Tabor playing conference basketball games before Thanksgiving. The earlier start was required in order to get all conference games in by late February.

This will only be accentuated next year with the addition of York College in Nebraska. They don?t play football either. I?m not sure what brought about the expansion, but it will be interesting to watch how the news schools affect the conference.

Hillsboro resident Joe Klein?sasser is director of news and media relations at Wichita State University. He can be reached at Joe.Klein?sasser@wichita.edu.

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