Coaches have argued that the time and financial resources they put into recruiting and developing players should give them the right to block certain transfers. They also say some schools tamper with players and that coaches can counter the hijinks by blocking a transfer.
Meanwhile, athletes on one-year renewable scholarships say they are liable to get run off if they underperform athletically. They point to regular students who are allowed to move from one school to the next and accept a scholarship from their new school.
O'Brien, the former St. Joseph's player, had hoped to take advantage of the NCAA transfer rule that allows an athlete to compete immediately if he goes to a school that offers a graduate program not available at his original school.
All he needed was a signed release from St. Joseph's and he would have been in uniform for UAB last season. He said he never got the signature or an explanation.
He said he's getting on with life. He paid his own way to UAB and started work on his master's degree in public administration. He practiced with the Blazers and sat on the bench in his warm-up suit at home games.
O'Brien has hired an agent and is working out this summer with old teammates from St. Joseph's with the hope of playing professional basketball overseas.
"I'll always have a grudge with St. Joseph's and the NCAA," he said from his home in New Holland, Pa. "I'm not actively out trying to do anything about it. I'm just worried about bettering my future."
Of course, he's a strong supporter of any measure that frees athletes to move from one school to another.
"I hope they fix some of the transfer rules," he said, "and prevent any student from being held hostage like I was."
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