MINNEAPOLIS – Texas Tech's Final Four roster would have a much different look if pending NCAA legislation dealing with graduate transfers is passed later this month.
So much so that national coach of the year Chris Beard would be missing two starters.
The NCAA will vote in two weeks on strengthening the graduate transfer rule that allows players with an undergraduate degree to transfer for their final year of eligibility.
The New York Times first reported the immediacy of the pending legislation on Friday.
The rule would be a nod more toward academics, requiring schools to commit a scholarship to the length of the pursuit of the graduate degree. In most cases, that's two years.
That means while a graduate transfer would have one year of eligibility remaining at his new school, in most cases that institution would have to account for a scholarship on its roster for two years.
Per the legislation, a school would be docked a scholarship the next season if the transfer does not earn his/her graduate degree within a year.
"I can tell you this much, I'm not going to finish mine in a year," said Texas Tech guard Matt Mooney. "It's a tough rule. I don't know how many graduate degrees finish in a year."
The legislation could effectively slow, if not stop, the free flow of grad-transfer athletes. If a player does not earn that grad degree within a year, schools would essentially have a "dead" scholarship the next season.
"It would substantially curtail [grad transfers]," Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said.
Texas Tech will start two such graduate transfers Saturday in a national semifinal against Michigan State – Mooney and forward Tariq Owens.
Mooney has his undergraduate degree in entrepreneurial studies from South Dakota. He is pursuing a graduate degree in interdisciplinary studies at Tech.
"If a coach leaves that should be a factor," Mooney said. "You should be able to grad transfer. If you finish your studies and get your degree, it makes sense you should be able to go."
There are those within the NCAA membership who think the rule has been co-opted. It was a originally passed in 2006 allowing players to transfer without penalty for their final year of eligibility if they had completed their degree.
What emerged has been an annual grad transfer market for players looking for a change of scenery.
"The percent that are actually gaining their degrees are rather small," said Justin Sell, the athletic director at South Dakota State. "There is the difficulty of trying to put something in place that doesn't negatively impact students that are using it for the right reason.
"If you're serious about getting a master's degree, there's ways of getting a master's degree. Playing isn't one of them."
Sell is the chair of the NCAA Transfer Working Group who helped develop the legislation last fall. The NCAA Council is expected to vote on the legislation later this month.
Statistics show that about half of regular graduate students drop out of doctoral programs. According to NCAA research, only 28 percent of football grad transfers complete their master's.
The legislation would only impact football and men's and women's basketball.
"I support the piece of legislation," said Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson, a long-time advocate of what is being considered. "The graduation requirement is fair, it's reasonable. The elimination of the hired player for one season without any academic requirement has not been good for the NCAA."
The SEC began banning graduate transfers in 2011. The league changed its stance in 2015.
"They still are expected to be students," SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said Friday. "Whether that is the right legislation or not, I think, is an open ended question. We've got to get back to the expectation … they are students."
NCAA president Mark Emmert referred to the legislation at his Thursday press conference.
"That's been a highly debated subject inside the membership, but I wouldn't be surprised to see some move in that direction going forward," Emmert said. "Pretty much everyone thinks a student who has graduated from school, they've done everything they're supposed to do at their home institution. They have completed their degree. They maintained their eligibility, and if they want to then move to another school to pursue a graduate degree and play another year then that's fine, even though it clearly can be disruptive to the team losing that individual."
Sell said there was overwhelming support of the legislation from coaches and Student-Athlete Advisory Council members.
"It's holding the coach accountable to take those students that are serious," Sell said.
Sell referred to a "gray area" where a senior player is being recruited by another school for a grad transfer "off of someone's roster before [that player] is finished."
He specifically mentioned former Oregon quarterback Vernon Adams who left Eastern Washington after three seasons. Adams played for the Ducks in 2015.
The transfer was so contentious that Eastern Washington's coach at the time denied Adams use the team's facility while he transitioned to Oregon.
Adams didn't graduate from Eastern Washington until August 2015, weeks before Oregon's season started.
"He's looking at Oregon in January and doesn't graduate in August. It feels really odd. It feels funny. When is the degree actually earned?" Sell said.