RMU's Andy Toole slams NCAA transfer culture as 'disrespectful'
March 14, 2017 4:31 PM
Andy Toole's Colonials went 14-19 this season.
By Sean Gentille / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
That mid-major NCAA basketball programs are increasingly decimated by transfers shouldn’t be surprise anyone who follows Duquesne or Robert Morris.
Still, Sports Illustrated on Tuesday ran a well-done story detailing just how difficult the situation has become. SI found that the number of players who’ve transferred up to higher-rated leagues has more than tripled since 2012. That year, 28 players left for bigger programs as either traditional or grad transfers. In the 2016 offseason, that number jumped to 91.
Naturally, SI asked Robert Morris coach Andy Toole for his take on the situation. Toole’s program has been hit hard in the last two seasons, and it’s a topic he’s discussed with the Post-Gazette.
In 2015, the Colonials reached the NCAA tournament and lost to Duke, 85-56, in the first round. The future looked bright, as underclassmen Rodney Pryor and Marcquise Reed combined for 45 points in that game. Two seasons later, Pryor is Georgetown’s leading scorer (18.0) and Reed a key rotation player at Clemson. Pryor left by graduate transfer last season and Reed by traditional transfer two years ago. Toole says his mindset has shifted from optimism to concern when a young player has a breakout game. “The first thing you are thinking is, ‘That’s great! But is it too great?’” he says. “It’s not fair, but that’s the way your mind works.”
Those departures have led directly to Robert Morris enduring back-to-back losing seasons. Toole averaged 22 wins in his first five seasons as a head coach. The past two years, he’s gone 10-22 and 14-19. Adding insult to the attrition, coaches from both Georgia and Georgetown sent mail to Toole’s office last year to be forwarded to Pryor after he’d been released from his scholarship. “It’s disrespectful and really brazen,” Toole said of the mail. “It’s almost like there’s the BCS world and everyone else is there for the pickings.”
Toole also said, according to SI, that “he’s more reluctant to scream at a high-end player, knowing that a transfer is just a frustrated post-practice phone call away.”
It’s also worth remembering if/when Toole ever leaves Moon Township for a better job. Coaches jumping ship is something players have had to deal with since the beginning of time. Now, the shoe is a little more squarely on the other foot.
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