The 2019 University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team is off to a 3-1 start. While the team has had moderate success on the court, they are doing so without key newcomer Micah Potter.
A redshirt junior from Mentor, Ohio, Potter was a highly touted, four-star recruit from Montverde Academy, a prep school that has produced NBA All-Stars in D’Angelo Russell and Ben Simmons. After finishing his high school career, Potter stayed home and attended The Ohio State University.
At OSU, Potter struggled to find playing time. Although he appeared in 59 games in over two seasons with the Buckeyes, he only averaged 10 minutes per game his sophomore year, a four-minute decrease from the 2016-17 season.
Potter decided to leave the OSU program before the 2018-19 season, transferring to Wisconsin. Potter began practicing with the Badgers last December, but the main problem was getting him eligible for the 2019-2020 season. The problem was the NCAA’s strict and confusing transfer rules, which have held Potter out of action in 2019.
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According to the NCAA website, students are required to spend one year at the school’s institution before becoming eligible to play. The NCAA also adjusted a law that stated a student is eligible to play immediately if an incoming freshman has enrolled in summer classes and their coach departs before the first day of fall classes.
While this new adaptation of the transfer rule is a small step forward toward advocating for the rights of student-athletes, flaws still exist in the NCAA’s transfer portal system, particularly in the case of Potter.
The point of the NCAA’s transfer rule is to get the new student comfortable with the environment at the University before participating in athletics. In Potter’s case, the rule does not hold up. In his short time at Wisconsin, Potter has already seemed to fit in at the school, practicing with the team and earning a 3.3 GPA in his spring semester at Wisconsin.
While Potter appears to have become pretty comfortable with the environment in Madison, the NCAA declined his appeal for a waiver to become eligible. Even with letters of support from the OSU Athletic Director Gene Smith and Head Coach Chris Holtmann, the NCAA still denied the waiver, forcing Potter to sit.
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Potter’s case raises serious questions about the NCAA’s transfer portal system. If a player is not enjoying their current school and makes the decision to switch, then excels at their new school in the classroom and with their team, why shouldn’t they be allowed to play? Even though Potter is clearly fitting in nicely at UW, the NCAA continues to declare him ineligible.
Even more frustrating, the NCAA’s fraudulent transfer system is representative of their lack of consistency. Unlike Potter, the NCAA has granted waivers to transfer students that allow them to play immediately, even to some that haven’t sat out even a semester before transferring to their new school.
Nine games into his sophomore season at the University of Kentucky, Quade Green elected to leave the program in December and transfer. Now at the University of Washington, the NCAA granted Green a waiver, making the six-foot guard immediately eligible for the 2019-20 season.
Even though Green never sat a year or spent at least two semesters at his university, he is allowed to see the court while Potter continues to watch the Badgers from the bench. Green’s case is one of many to show the inconsistencies in the NCAA’s new rule.
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As of right now, Potter is forced to sit until the end of the 2019 fall semester. The NCAA announced Thursday that Potter will be ineligible until Wisconsin’s Dec. 21 matchup against UW-Milwaukee. While the Badgers have held their own without him thus far, his return will help boost the Badgers as they enter Big Ten play.
Wisconsin fans, players and alumni should be frustrated with the NCAA’s decision, as their inconsistencies seem to target certain student-athletes over others.
While Wisconsin desperately wants to return to the NCAA Tournament in 2019-20, it becomes more difficult to get resume-boosting non-conference wins without Potter, a 6’10” center that could provide a key impact in these matchups.
The Badgers hope to get a boost from Potter sooner rather than later. In the meantime, Wisconsin’s mindset shifts towards preparing for their final few games before the return of Potter in a couple of weeks.