Ohio State women’s basketball opens up their regular season schedule Sunday afternoon, the moment Buckeye hoops fans have been waiting for. And on Friday evening, the NCAA ruled that junior transfer Braxtin Miller (not to be confused with OSU football great Braxton Miller) would be immediately eligible following the approval of her transfer waiver.
Miller, the junior guard from Dayton, Ohio, announced her plans to return to her home state in April after playing two seasons at Oklahoma State where she earned a spot on last year’s preseason All-Big 12 team.
Earlier this week, head coach Kevin McGuff said that he didn’t expect a decision anytime soon. “We might (not know) until when we play our first game or even beyond that,” McGuff said to the Columbus Dispatch. “Usually (the NCAA) tries to prioritize sports that are in season, which we clearly are at this point. It still could be awhile.”
Fortunately for McGuff and his team, the decision did come before the first game, as OSU plays Valparaiso in the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame Classic at Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio on Sunday, Nov. 10 at 2 p.m. ET.
Athlete compensation has been receiving most of the attention as of late — and deservedly so — as California passed a law in September allowing athletes to profit off of the use of their name, image, and likeness.
The NCAA passionately protested the California law’s passing but has since claimed to be starting the “process to enhance name, image and likeness opportunities,” whatever that means.
But flying under the radar has been a string of questionable decisions by the NCAA granting or denying player transfer waivers. Just last week, forward Uros Plavsic’s transfer waiver and appeal from Arizona State to Tennessee was denied. Tennessee athletic director Phillip Fulmer said the university was “quite frankly, stunned” and “at a loss as to how this decision aligns with a mission of prioritizing the well-being of student-athletes.”
Evina Westbrook, the junior guard and leading scorer last season for Tennessee transferred to UConn this year after Tennessee head coach Holly Warlick was fired. The NCAA recently denied her transfer waiver, forcing Westbrook to sit out for the Huskies 2019-20 season. UConn plans to appeal the decision.
Evina Westbrook’s waiver to play this season at UConn is denied and athletic director David Benedict has some strong thoughts about it. pic.twitter.com/sKDoKjYnWf— Mike Anthony (@ManthonyCourant) November 1, 2019
The current Ohio State roster boasts seven freshman and only one senior. Miller’s experience in her two seasons at Oklahoma State will provide much-needed leadership to the young Buckeye team. She started 59 of 62 games with the other OSU and averaged 13.1 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists for the Cowgirls.
Despite having only played two seasons in Stillwater, her 105 mad three-pointers has her ninth on the programs all-time list. She was a two-time All-Big 12 honorable mention, and was a unanimous Big 12 All-Freshman Team selection.
While the news of her eligibility is good for the Buckeyes, the NCAA’s recent transfer waiver decisions offered no real insight into the timing or possible decision for Miller and the Buckeyes while they were waiting.
The new waiver rules give the NCAA broad discretion in deciding whether or not a student-athlete will have to sit out a season or receive immediate eligibility to play. However, based on recent decisions, it has become glaringly obvious that the NCAA’s “discretion” is arbitrary at best.
For an organization that claims to care about the “student-athlete,” the NCAA’s unpredictable transfer waiver decisions fail to reflect that sentiment. After Wesbrook’s transfer waiver was denied, UConn head coach Geno Auriemma told reporters, “It’s unfortunate that a student athlete’s life is being impacted by a committee sitting in Indianapolis making a decision on whether or not someone meets these arbitrary requirements, whether or not you can play or not right away.”
Again, this one turned out positively for Ohio State, but until the NCAA is able to get a better grasp on the process to approve transfers, unfortunately, many more players and programs will unnecessarily be forced to remain in limbo as their fates are decided.