In this photo from March 9, 2020, sportscaster Dick Vitale broadcasts before a semifinal game of the West Coast Conference basketball tournament between the San Francisco Dons and the Gonzaga Bulldogs at the Orleans Arena on March 9, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Vitale predicts that Tampa Bay Buccaneers will win the 55th Super Bowl this Sunday. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images/TNS)

Dick Vitale: NCAA transfer rule triggers ‘cheating behind the scenes ... wheeling and dealing’

ATHENS —Dick Vitale makes a living championing coaches, players and charitable causes, but on Monday night the popular ESPN analyst took aim at the NCAA’s new one-time transfer rule.

Vitale, noting there are more than 1,500 players in the NCAA transfer portal, believes it’s out of control and not good for collegiate athletics, including basketball.

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“Unbelievable wackiness,” Vitale called it.

“I think what they’ve opened up is not only the pandora of breaking up rosters, I think cheating behind the scenes, I think wheeling and dealing behind the scenes, it is ugly,” Vitale told DawgNation on Monday night.

“The coaches I’ve been talking to, and I mean multiple coaches, they say coaches are operating behind the scenes getting words out through AAU guys, high school guys, whoever their runners are, ‘hey, tell him if he puts his name in the portal, we’re going to go after him.’ "

Vitale believes the one-time transfer rule was put in place to help student-athletes.

“To do something positive, to allow kids to transfer (because) maybe they are unhappy because they aren’t getting playing time,” said Vitale, who was an NBA and collegiate coach before becoming the voice of college basketball more than 40 years ago with ESPN.

Vitale said some transfer situatios are good for players and are needed.

But in too many cases, the rule is being exploited and the wrong messages are being conveyed to student-athletes.

“What is wrong with a kid learning in life you don’t just get up and leave every situation?” Vitale said. “Life is, you get a job, you’ve got to battle through it, there are tough times.

“You’re teaching the kids the wrong values. What about loyalty? Does loyalty enter the picture? Dedication? That doesn’t mean anything?”

Vitale is well-aware of the argument that coaches can leave a school and coach right away, so why not players?

“First of all, the argument is ridiculous, because it’s not apples to apples,” Vitale said. “You have 1,500 players (in the portal), you don’t have 1,500 coaches transfer or losing jobs — 30, 40 or 50, at most.

“How you solve it is very simple …. you put in a stipulation, if a coach is fired or if a coach leaves, those players on that team have the right to go and play immediately.”

Vitale also took the NCAA to task for not responding to rules violations and investigations in a timely manner.

“We have a number of schools, this is public information, that had allegations come their way and charges come their way five years ago, and no decisions are made?” Vitale said, referring to the multi-year FBI investigation into bribes and corruption in college basketball.

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“Yet their coaches are still operating and taking payers away from other schools that maybe would get those kids if there was a penalty (for the offenders),” he said.

“Innocent or guilt, if you can’t make a decision as an organization in two years, there’s something wrong.”