Big East Hardline on Transfers

Conference meetings always produce a lot of talk, but little action. What makes the talk interesting is the curiosity over who started the conversation. Take this little bit of gossip from the Big East basketball coaches.

At the Big East meetings last week, one coach proposed a rule that would allow members to recruit prospects who are released from their letters of intent by a fellow league member in the event of a coaching change. It's becoming more common for players to be released under those circumstances, and the coach argued it would be better if that talent remained in the league. The proposal did not gain strong support.

The Big East has one of the tightest restrictions on transfers and poaching within the conference. Essentially, once a player signs with a Big East school, that player can never go to another Big East school to play that sport. Period. Not even as a walk-on paying his/her own way. It stems from the earliest days of the league when it was a basketball only league and most of the schools were in such close proximity and constantly battling over the same recruits. Hard feelings, bitter relations, and nasty accusations among the schools and coaches over players. There was a good reason why they instituted the rule

That the coaches in the conference would reject such a minor exception -- coach leaving, the school formally releasing the player from his letter of intent and the kid never even setting foot on the campus as a student -- is a little surprising. Still, old habits die hard.

The fun part is speculating on which Big East coach made the proposal. My guess: Seton Hall, Bobby Gonzalez. He's been fighting for a slew of recruits in just his first year, and has just missed on a few blue-chippers. He would have the most to gain from this. When you consider that the coaches likely to be on the hot seat next year -- Norm Roberts, St. John's and Tim Welsh, Providence -- are competing directly against him. Not to mention that Jay Wright at Villanova spent the past year contending with rumors that he was heading to the Sixers or a bigger job.

It would also explain why the proposal met with little interest. Gonzalez's, um, intense nature, tends to grate on a lot of people -- especially fellow coaches.

(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

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