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Dear Power 5 Conferences, It's Time to Make a Real Change

With the recent issue at Baylor, why should the P5 use their autonomy to do something good? Well, I've got some idea of how they could take a big step forward when it comes to dealing with the issue of domestic violence.

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

This week, the Big 12 announced that they would adopt a Transfer Conduct Policy like the SEC announced earlier this summer. That policy would prevent member schools from accepting a transfer student-athlete who had been dismissed from their previous institution due to "serious misconduct."

"The SEC defined 'serious misconduct' as sexual assault, domestic violence or other forms of sexual violence. The rule excludes banning transfers if at a previous school the player had "limited discipline applied by a sports team, or temporary disciplinary action during an investigation."

That sure makes sense doesn't it? No one thinks that athletes who commit violence of that sort deserve the privilege of playing college athletics But, before the Big 12 and SEC spend too much time patting each other on the back, look a little bit closer at the rule. It doesn't ban transfers from players who had limited discipline. Well, then you know what it wouldn't have prevented don't you? That's right the Sam Ukwuachu transfer from the Boise State Broncos to the Baylor Bears.

A major issue that I have with this policy is that it risks putting yet another stigma on the victims of these actions. They are going to be under even more pressure not to come forward to press charges, and I can't support anything that could lead to an increase in unreported cases of domestic violence. To use the standard that a player must be expelled from either the team, or previous school, is too high in my opinion.

So what can the Power 5 Conferences do? Well, there are at least two options I can think of right away. For starters, they can adjust the NCAA Compliance form, so that there are questions that go beyond the athlete's academic eligibility to compete at their previous institution. In the case of Ukwuachu, there was nothing that required Boise to disclose beyond the question about the student being "suspended or disqualified for disciplinary reasons." If an athlete wishes to transfer, they should sign a release, which would allow their college to disclose any disciplinary actions during their time on campus, as well as detailing what support services were provided to the athlete. It doesn't mean releasing the confidential communication between the athlete and those providing the service, but it provides potential new schools with a more complete picture of the issues surrounding the athlete. This open exchange of information would not be to deny the athletes a second chance, but it would be essential for the second part of my proposal.

My second suggestion is a bit more complicated, but one that I feel could go a long way towards real movement on this issue. I suggest that in situations such as these, that the school wishing to accept the transfer, must make public their intentions to accept the transfer, before admission. They need to be open and forthcoming to the students, faculty, and leadership at their institutions that they are willing to take a chance on an athlete with "risks."

At that point, the athlete and transfer school present their case to an independent body of domestic violence experts. I would even suggest that this "appeal committee" would be chaired by former Syracuse Orange QB and College FB Hall of Famer, Don McPherson, who has plenty of experience as an advocate and would bring the skills and experience needed to lead a group of this nature. Should this group approve the transfer, then the athlete could receive an athletic scholarship while sitting out their transfer year. The accepting school would take responsibility for the transfer athlete's behavior and should another issue result, then that school would face a loss of multiple scholarships.

I'll admit that this proposal needs to be vetted more, but the idea is that you need a policy with some teeth, and not just one for PR show. What I do think is that this is an opportunity for the Power 5 to use their autonomy to take the lead on a very important issue, and to do it for the right reasons, not because of competitive balance or negative press.

I fully believe that individual cases need to be treated as such, and that mental health issues are something that colleges need to be spending more time working with, especially with athletes. Would love to hear your thoughts, so please comment below.