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BatCats take on Sooners

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Men’s golf team heads to Big 12 Championships

K-State Baseball vs TCU JT VanGilder

There’s actual news to share today, and we’ll get to that shortly. First, we’re going to take about the NCAA.

Last week, in a much-lauded attempt to make transfers both easier and more fair to the players, the NCAA Division I Council adopted some changes to the transfer rule. First, incoming freshmen who enroll in summer classes can transfer immediately without a waiver in the wake of a coaching change that occurs before fall classes start. That this is being termed the Hugh Freeze rule should give you a sense for the sort of situations where this rule would be helpful. This seems both reasonable and fair. Second, the NCAA instituted what is effectively the Baker Mayfield rule, where walk-ons can transfer without having to sit out a season. Meanwhile, a proposal to penalize schools for accepting grad transfers did not pass. All this is good, unintended consequences notwithstanding.

Here’s the bad part though. Thanks to rule changes announced previously, this offseason featured a rash of football players entering the transfer portal, which I imagine is a Tardis-like contraption that completely erases a player’s earlier college affiliation and allows them to emerge transformed transferred. The NCAA could also waive the one-year-in-residence requirement if the player could make a case for needing a waiver. The case didn’t even have to be a strong one, so Justin Fields could easily leave Georgia for Ohio State and Tate Martell could then leave Ohio State for Miami. It does not require much cynicism to believe both players transferred to get more playing time and their lawyers were able to rely on the NCAA’s vague “health, safety, and well-being” standard to push for the waivers.

But the NCAA has never been a model of consistency, and favoring form over substance, the organization recently denied waivers to two players who had genuine mitigating circumstances, but chose to apply for waivers on the grounds of medical hardship.

Last week, the NCAA denied a waiver to Brock Hoffman, an offensive lineman who had transferred to Virginia Tech from Coastal Carolina to take care of his mother. She had brain surgery in 2017 to remove a tumor and is still dealing with the serious consequences of her illness. Hoffman’s waiver was denied because Blacksburg is 105 miles away from his home, i.e. five whole miles outside the 100-mile radius the NCAA allows for medical waivers. Hoffman is appealing the decision, and this time, he has lawyered up. He’s likely to apply for another waiver, this time using the same standard Fields and Martell used, which is vague enough to apply to his situation.

Meanwhile, in Big Ten country, tight end Luke Ford, who transferred from Georgia to Illinois to be closer to his ailing grandparents, found his waiver denied as well. Like Hoffman, he ran into trouble over the distance from his hometown of Carterville to Champaign, 190 miles, also the shortest distance from Ford’s hometown to any Power 5 program. Illinois intends to appeal the decision, but it’s not clear if Ford will succeed.

That the NCAA is trying to create a more equitable system for transfers is laudable, but the Ford and Hoffman decisions do nothing to allay fears that the NCAA is just exploiting student-athletes. Decisions like these are abitrary and lack transparency, and apparently, the institution isn’t capable of making these decisions without being unfair to at least some players. So why be in this situation at all?

Maybe the NCAA should get out of the business of deciding which players deserve waivers and just allow players to transfer freely. Will this lead to a rash of forum-shopping, the dreaded free agency market of college athletics? Maybe, and that’s an issue the NCAA should address. But denying waivers to players who have a genuine need to transfer is not the answer.

And now on to the actual news...

Baseball

Kansas State—newly energized by winning back-to-back series against conference teams—will take on Oklahoma tonight at 6 PM at Tointon Family Stadium, in the first game of a three-game series. Fans seem to be excited for the series too, with the first two games sold out already.

Griffin Hassall will take the mound for the BatCats tonight. He’s coming off a career-long game against TCU where he pitched 7 23 innings and only allowed three hits. Hassall, recently named Big 12 Newcomer of the Week, was head coach Pete Hughes’ first recruit at Kansas State, but honed his big-stage pitching skills by pitching for Team Canada in the U18 World Championships in 2017.

Golf

The men’s golf team has all kinds of momentum right now and will take that into the Big 12 Championships this weekend in White Sulfur Springs, West Virginia.

The teams will play 36 holes on Friday, followed by 18 holes on both Saturday and Sunday. Kansas State, the 10th seed, is paired with West Virginia and will tee off at 2:00 PM today.

A good performance here could get the Wildcats into the program’s first NCAA Regional since 2009. Individual titles are also at stake, especially for Jeremy Gandon, who was Big 12 co-champion last season.

Football

Dalton Risner is still on the board after the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft. It’s likely he will go to a team in the early second round. Along with Oklahoma’s Cody Ford, Risner may be the best lineman still available.

Former Kansas State assistant Andre Coleman is now an analyst with the Texas Longhorns. Thanks to the terms of his contract at Kansas State, Texas got Coleman’s expertise for a song. The Longhorns are paying Coleman $25,000 while Kansas State will pay Coleman the remainder of his $440,000 base salary because he was terminated without cause.

Chris Klieman’s approach to Kansas State as a brand is very different from Bill Snyder’s way. Klieman believes “we have a great thing to sell here” and wants to promote Kansas State as much as possible. He also had positive things to say about his team, noting that the players care about each other and that he’s pleased with the progress so far. He did borrow a bit from Snyder’s coachspeak playbook however, noting that the team is “light years away from being able to play a game.”