Memphis coach Tubby Smith bemoaned the rising number of transfers occurring in college basketball in a rant that drew national attention following Sunday’s win over ECU inthe regular season finale.
Answering a question about whether he expected the Tigers’ roster to return mostly intact next year, Smith cited the more than 800 players that transferred in Division-I basketball last offseason and declared the trend is “teaching them how to quit.”
“Kids have a lot of options nowadays with the new NCAA regulations and guys can transfer when they want,” Smith said. “I’ve been in this business a long time. Never seen anything like it. We had over 800 Division I transfers last year. Over 800. C’mon? We’re teaching them how to quit. That’s what we’re doing. Things not going well, let’s quit.”
Memphis was hit particularly hard by transfers after Smith’s first year on the job. Six players sought a transfer after the 2016-17 season, including the team’s top three scorers. Five landed at other Division-I schools.
Smith’s head coaching career includes stops at six different schools, including stints at Tulsa (1991-95), Georgia (1995-97) and Texas Tech (2013-16) that lasted four years or less.
On Sunday, Smith repeated a story he used previously about when he played at High Point College in 1969 and called his father to express a desire to transfer.
Once Smith told his father he was being treated fairly, still on scholarship, and getting free education and housing, Guffrie Smith informed his son, “your bed’s been taken ... but you can join the Army.”
“Best thing he ever said to me,” Tubby Smith said on Sunday.
Smith noted that he would talk to the players on this year’s Memphis roster once the season ends, but that he couldn’t control the numerous voices influencing their decisions these days.
“Somebody needs to tell them that you made a commitment. Stick to it. But it doesn’t happen that way,” Smith said. “They got a lot of people in their ear. That’s the way life is. Those are the distractions, the noise.”
“If you can put that in a box and keep the noise away like I do, that’s the only way you can survive and advance in anything because you’re going to have your naysyayers, your doubters, always. ... But that’s the way it is. And most people, hopefully they’re better off when they do make a move.”