Bowlsby: Big 12 transfer policy will 'mandate due diligence'
With Baylor facing scrutiny for allowing a football player with a troubled past to transfer to the school, the Big 12 is crafting a new policy that will require more diligence when looking into athletes' past disciplinary issues.
Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby told The Associated Press on Wednesday he expects the new rule to be structured like the one implemented by the Southeastern Conference. The SEC prevents schools from accepting transfers who have been dismissed from another team for ''serious misconduct,'' defined as sexual assault, domestic violence or other forms of sexual violence.
Bowlsby said he expects the Big 12 rule to ''cast a broad net'' with its transfer policy and for schools to consider more than just violent acts. He added that decisions on transfers should involve more than just coaches, but the league office won't be making the call on whether a player should be accepted.
''I think institutions will perform that due diligence and they'll make their own decisions and I think that would include things like academic fraud. They'll include problems that (an athlete) may have had in high school. Violence against women, certainly that was the initiative that put us in this position,'' Bowlsby said. ''I think it's a broader net than that. I think it's a responsibility to do the work so that you know who you are bringing to campus.''
Baylor and football coach Art Briles have been questioned for allowing a player who was later convicted of sexual assault to transfer to the school from Boise State.
Big 12 athletic directors on Tuesday unanimously supported creating a rule that would prohibit accepting athletes who have had discipline problems at previous schools. The rule would also apply to recruits.
Sam Ukwuachu, 22, was sentenced to six months in jail last week for the 2013 sexual assault of a Baylor women's soccer player. Ukwuachu, from Pearland, Texas, played at Boise State as a freshman in 2012, but was dismissed from the team in the spring of 2013 for unspecified disciplinary reasons. He transferred to Baylor but never played.
Ukwuachu's former girlfriend at Boise State testified during his trial in Texas that he hit and choked her. Boise State has said those allegations were never reported to school officials and did not have anything to do with his dismissal from the team. Briles has said he spoke with then-Boise State coach Chris Petersen about Ukwuachu, but was never told the player had committed acts of violence against women. Petersen, now at Washington, has said only that he ''thoroughly apprised'' Briles of Ukwuachu's disciplinary record and dismissal.
Having the SEC rule - which was implemented after Alabama accepted a football player transfer from Georgia who had been charged with domestic violence while with the Bulldogs - would not necessarily have prevented Ukwuachu from transferring to Baylor. But the Big 12 plans to be more expansive and place the onus on schools to be more aware.
''Nothing is going to completely solve the problem because every instance is different,'' Bowlsby said. ''What our rule will do is mandate due diligence. If you go through the right processes you're likely to come across the things that you want to discover before a decision is made.''
Bowlsby declined to comment on whether Baylor had done due diligence with Ukwuachu.
''I'm not nearly close enough to have a reasonable vantage point,'' he said.
He did say that decisions on transfer are best not left solely to coaches and he expects these types of transfer rules to become a national trend.
''There are many institutions where these decisions have been left exclusively to coaches. I think ... similar policies I believe will be adopted broadly around the country, and I think it will have the impact of having more collaboration on campus before these decisions are made,'' Bowlsby said.
The other Power Five conferences, the Big Ten, Pac-12 and Atlantic Coast Conference, have not had formal conference-level discussions about prohibiting schools from accepting athletes with a history of disciplinary problems.
Conferences can place restrictions on its members, but NCAA transfer rules must be approved by full membership. They are not an area where the Power Five conferences can pass legislation using the autonomy granted to them last year.
The Big 12 hopes to have its new policy approved by its presidents by the end of October, but Bowlsby said he expects members are already changing their procedures regarding transfers.
''I'm quite comfortable in saying our athletic directors will be operating along these lines even before it's all finalized,'' he said.
Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP