CORVALLIS — Craig Robinson took to his "soapbox" Tuesday afternoon and took a subtle swipe at the Beavers Civil War counterpart in the process.
The Oregon State men's basketball coach, at the end of his weekly news conference, spoke out against the NCAA rule that allows the signing of one-and-done senior transfers, something Oregon has done with regularity — and with much success — in four seasons under coach Dana Altman.
Even though Robinson stated "this week's opponent" wasn't the intended target of his dissatisfaction, the timing certainly put the Ducks in the crosshairs. Oregon State and Oregon will play the first of their two Civil War games this season at 5 p.m. Sunday in Gill Coliseum.
In the final question of Robinson's regular Tuesday meeting with the media, Beavers radio broadcaster Mike Parker stepped forward and asked the coach his thoughts on the transfer rule. Robinson said he thinks it's too easy for fifth-year seniors to transfer from one team to another without sitting out a season after they graduate, especially when they've spent so much time being groomed by another program.
"That's a tough rule because a lot of coaches like myself and people around the country spend time developing (players)," Robinson said. "The programs that can't recruit the blue-chip guys, they do their homework, they find a guy, they develop them into a really good player and "¦ then he graduates and takes his talent and moves on to a bigger program and you've done all the work. That seems a bit unfair. That seems a bit unfair. It would be nice if they could fix that rule a bit."
The Ducks have built a reputation as a landing spot for senior transfers and have benefited from bringing in mature players. This season they added forward Mike Moser from UNLV and guard Jason Calliste from Detroit. Both graduated from their previous schools, with Moser earning a degree in sociology and Calliste in communications studies. Both transferred with immediate eligibility.
Moser is Oregon's second-leading scorer at 14.6 points per game, and is its top rebounder at 7.7 per game. Calliste averages 11 points off the bench. Last season the Ducks added Arsalan Kazemi from Rice, and the forward played a pivotal role in their run to the Sweet 16. In 2011-12 it was forward Olu Ashaolu from Louisiana Tech, and in 2010-11 it was Jay-R Strowbridge from Jacksonville State.
Again, while Robinson prefaced his remarks by saying he was not specifically addressing the Oregon program, he expressed strong opinions about the rule.
"I think when you have invested time in a kid and he graduates and he wants to transfer "¦ he should have to sit out like any other transfer should," Robinson said. "That would at least curtail some of that.
"It's a slippery slope," he added. "Technically, I'm not allowed to talk to a guy until he gets his release. But these situations are handled well before that. If I'm following the letter of the law, I'm gonna be late anyways. But we've been building our roster from the bottom up since I got here. Next year, when we get Gary Payton, he'll be the first junior-college kid that we've had here. It's not like I have anything against it, it's just that, if you're trying to build something the right way, it's going to take some time.
"... It's hard to go out and poach guys when you really aren't supposed to be able to talk to them. That's hard for me to figure out how to do."
Robinson also said the NCAA should be more aggressive in its enforcement of hardship transfers, which includes players who want to play closer to home or be near ailing family members. As the rule is currently written, Robinson said, a player can transfer to a program within an 80-mile radius of his home with no penalty.
"If you're transferring to a school that's 81 miles out of that, you have to sit out a year," he said. "It's pretty clear-cut."
That was the case for former Oregon State player Ahmad Starks, who transferred to Illinois after last season to be closer to his sick grandmother. But the school, located in Champaign, is more than 100 miles from his home in Chicago. Starks is redshirting this season and will be a senior for the Illini next year.
Oregon guard Joseph Young, a redshirt junior who leads the Ducks in scoring, transferred from Houston and was granted immediate eligibility by the NCAA. Young's father, former Houston star Michael Young, was the director of basketball operations for the Cougars, but was reassigned to a community service role in the athletic department after last season. He declined the new job and later filed suit against the school.
When his father left, so did Joseph Young. He presumably based his appeal to the NCAA based on the circumstances surrounding his father's departure. If that appeal had been denied, he would have had to sit out this season and then have just one year left to play.
"Just to show that I'm evenhanded, I think when a coach leaves, a kid should be able to leave," Robinson said. "I think the NCAA is moving more toward that, but they can be confusing so I don't know which direction they're going."