INDIANAPOLIS – In 14 years of coaching at the collegiate level, IPFW men's basketball coach Tony Jasick has seen a lot of players come and go. So as this spring has been flooded with more than 400 student-athletes transferring from NCAA Division I programs, Jasick isn't terribly alarmed by the number.
“I don't know in terms of numbers if this year is very different from years past,” Jasick said. “I think there are always a significant number of transfers every year. But I do think that the issue is coming to light because of several high-profile transfers this year.”
Jasick has been a head coach at IPFW for 13 months and seen three players leave the program, two of their own volition. Shortly after taking over as coach in April 2011, Jasick dismissed junior guard Jeremy Mixon because he did not meet program expectations. Last week redshirt freshman forward Hichem Benayad-Cherif transferred to NCAA Division II Armstrong Atlantic, and Jasick announced Monday that freshman guard Jonny Marlin was leaving the team.
“I don't think that all transferring is bad,” Jasick said. “There are a number of good reasons as to why student-athletes transfer.”
The reasons for transferring can vary widely. In the case of the latter two IPFW players, one had everything to do with basketball and the other had nothing to do with the sport.
Benayad-Cherif simply wanted to enhance his opportunity for playing time. Marlin averaged more than 27 minutes per game as a true freshman, so basketball wasn't his issue. The Center Grove High School graduate told Jasick he wanted to be on a campus that he felt was a better fit for him.
“There are a ton of reasons why kids transfer,” Jasick said. “A lot of those issues can be helped, and it starts in the recruiting process.”
The reasons for leaving a program may be numerous, but according to Butler coach Brad Stevens, there is one overriding factor that often gets overlooked.
As universities spend millions of dollars to enhance their basketball facilities, Stevens said all of those bells and whistles are impressive they won't make up for shortcomings in personal relations.
“Facilities speak more to the recruitment in a lot of ways,” Stevens said. “But once you get to school, it's all about the people. There are 400 transfers in the NCAA right now and almost all 400 of them are looking for the right fit people-wise.”
Butler is raising money to enhance Hinkle Fieldhouse, some of which will be directly related to the basketball program, but also other ways to improve the overall athletic facilities.
“Locker rooms are nice, coach's offices are nice, we have an auxiliary gym and it's nice,” Stevens said. “But we aren't there yet. That is something that we've talked about and they are really working hard on. We are raising a lot of money to renovate and make Hinkle even better.”
IPFW's Jasick said it is imperative for each young person to have a “support system” in place to aid him in making the proper decisions. Success, whether it is points scored, playing time or a specific role on the team, doesn't necessarily come quickly. He spoke of one of his current players as a perfect example.
Frank Gaines is a native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and spent his first year in Fort Wayne freezing and sitting. He redshirted his first year on campus and averaged just four points per game in his second year before blossoming into a significant role in his third and fourth years with the Mastodons. Next season Gaines will be a viable candidate for Summit League Player of the Year.
“That's the way society is,” Jasick said. “Everybody wants everything right now and everything is such a quick fix. Guys willing to make a gradual climb to success are becoming fewer and fewer.”
Unfortunately for coaches like Jasick and Stevens, situations where players seek significant roles almost immediately, want plush facilities and are guided incorrectly by uneducated sources are all obstacles that the coaches have to overcome continually.
“(Relationships) may not have been what they were looking for out of the gate,” Stevens said. “It's probably a good lesson for young kids.”