UK Football

Kentucky’s Stoops on transfers and accountability: ‘You want to be human.’

Mark Stoops on Kentucky’s strengths for 2019

At SEC Football Media Days on Thursday, July 18, 2019, in Hoover, Alabama, Kentucky Coach Mark Stoops talked about what his team has returning for this season. Much has been made of what the Cats lost from 2018.
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At SEC Football Media Days on Thursday, July 18, 2019, in Hoover, Alabama, Kentucky Coach Mark Stoops talked about what his team has returning for this season. Much has been made of what the Cats lost from 2018.

Alabama Coach Nick Saban believes the NCAA has gotten too liberal with its discretion when handing out waivers allowing for immediate eligibility for non-graduate transfers in college football, and suggested Wednesday that any transfer — regardless of the circumstances surrounding their transfer — be subject to one year of waiting on the sidelines.

Kentucky’s Mark Stoops was not as cut-throat in his assessment of the transfer portal and the free agency-like hysteria surrounding it, but does think there needs to be an element of accountability for student-athletes.

“When it gets to total free agency, I think we all are a bit concerned about that,” Stoops said Thursday at SEC Media Days. “And, again, you get criticized, you know, either way you stand on that. You want to be human. You want to help kids. That’s what we’re here for. That’s why we’re in this business. But part of that is also being hard on kids and disciplining kids and helping them be accountable when they don’t necessarily want to, you know?

“I think that’s where the fine line, the balance, comes in when maybe somebody’s trying to escape, you know, the pressures that come with improving in all areas of their life. But then there’s the other side of it, the human side, where they need to transfer. I had one a few years ago when a player of mine had to transfer, and because there was some serious family situations going on, and I wholeheartedly supported that and wanted him to have the opportunity to play. So it’s just a tough issue right now.”

Kentucky in the last year experienced the fruits and folly of the transfer portal — which the NCAA created beginning last school year to help streamline the transfer process for athletes and coaching staffs. UK lost two quarterbacks — including immediate backup Gunnar Hoak to Ohio State following the spring — but gained Xavier Peters, a former four-star recruit, from Florida State for whom it is still in the midst of a waiver-appeals process, and Sawyer Smith, a graduate transfer from Troy.

“There’s certainly going to be some obstacles for all of us,” Stoops said. “I’ve always taken the approach it is what it is. Whatever the rules are, I’m going to play by them and do the best I can and make sure I’m doing the right things by these kids as well.”

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