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Wisconsin draws attention to transfer rules

Jarrod Uthoff is finding out that he isn’t entirely in control of his search for a new school.

Uthoff’s former AAU coach, Jamie Johnson, said Wednesday that Uthoff recently told Wisconsin officials he intends to transfer and submitted a list of approximately 25 schools he hoped to talk to. Johnson said Wisconsin denied permission to more than half of the programs on Uthoff’s list.

Johnson said Iowa’s “Mr. Basketball” from 2011 is appealing in hopes that the school will lift its restrictions.

“He’s hopeful,” Johnson said. “I think he’s surprised at what has transpired.”

Johnson said Uthoff also will visit Creighton, one of the schools approved by Wisconsin.

Wisconsin officials did not respond to a request for comment from The Associated Press, and Uthoff did not respond to a text message.

The 6-8 forward told an Iowa-based high school sports website, metrosportsreport.com, that Badgers coach Bo Ryan has placed every Big Ten and ACC school – plus Iowa State and Marquette – on the list of schools that can’t contact him. According to the site, Uthoff said he would consider making an appeal to the NCAA if his appeals to Wisconsin don’t work.

“We’ll see. I might,” he told the site.

NCAA rules allow players to transfer, requiring them to sit out a year in most cases. But as Uthoff’s situation shows, the process can be more complicated than simply finding a new school and filling out some forms. According to the NCAA’s website, most transfers also require a “permission-to-contact” letter from the current school to the new school.

According to a student athlete handbook posted on Wisconsin’s website, a player who intends to transfer must make a written request to the school’s director of compliance for permission to speak to another institution or use the transfer exception. A coach may deny permission, and the student-athlete can appeal.

“Appeals related to the denial, by a coach, of a student-athlete’s request to contact another institution or to use the one-time transfer exception, begin with a written request to the sport administrator for the student-athlete’s team,” the handbook says.

If the sport administrator upholds the coach’s decision, the student-athlete can appeal to athletic director Barry Alvarez. If Alvarez upholds the decision, the student-athlete can make a request to the chair of the athletic board for an appeal committee hearing that will determine “whether the athletic director’s decision was reasonable.”

According to the handbook, the appeal committee’s decision is final and not subject to further review.

Although Uthoff isn’t a high-profile player – he redshirted as a freshman last season – his situation is gaining national attention. ESPN analyst Jay Bilas posted on his Twitter account that “Wisconsin restricting Jarrod Uthoff’s transfer is simply wrong. There is no legit reason for a school to control a player’s destination.”

Johnson wonders why players don’t have more freedom to switch schools when there are few such restrictions on coaches and athletic directors.

“I guess I don’t understand how ADs can job-hop and coaches can job-hop … It seems like there’s a double standard out there,” Johnson said.

And Johnson doesn’t understand why Wisconsin might be worried about Uthoff going to another marquee program.

“If you end up playing (against) him, just try to beat that team,” Johnson said.

Johnson said Uthoff wants to transfer because he felt he didn’t fit in with the Badgers’ style of play.

Johnson, a coach with the Iowa Barnstormers program, calls Ryan and assistant Greg Gard “good guys” and says he wouldn’t necessarily discourage future recruits from considering Wisconsin.

“At the same time, I hope cooler heads prevail,” Johnson said.

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