Here is an update to our original story on New Jersey high school legend Nick Suriano attempting to transfer from Penn State to Rutgers.
Wrestling: PSU grants Nick Suriano's transfer to Rutgers. Where does Penn State go from here? https://t.co/yAMivOLkVz— Roar Lions Roar (@RLRblog) August 8, 2017
Penn State just issued the following statement to Roar Lions Roar:
"Nick Suriano recently requested a release so that he could transfer to Rutgers. We granted this release. Subject to Big Ten policy, any intra-conference transfer is required to sit for one year before they are again eligible to participate. Nick is open to transfer to Rutgers and will be subject to that school's policies (conference or otherwise) on transfer and eligibility status. We support and work within the Big Ten policy."
So Suriano can transfer to Rutgers and is no longer blocked by Penn State in doing so. However, one more hurdle is required, as the Big Ten still needs to waive the requirement that intra-conference transfers lose one year of eligibility. No word on whether Suriano will ultimately transfer to Rutgers or not. More to come as this story develops.
You don't see this that much in wrestling.
Back in mid-July, there were reports that Penn State's 125 pound star Nick Suriano wanted to transfer to Rutgers. Nothing was confirmed, but all the signs were there.
Now, with school set to open in less than a month, nj.com is reporting that Penn State may be throwing up a roadblock to that action.
Ryan Dunleavy's story points out that if Penn State granted the release, Suriano would be eligible at Rutgers this season and have three years of eligibility. Without the release, he could transfer but would lose a year of competition under Big Ten rules (intra-conference transfer) and would sit out the 2017-18 season. He could transfer to a non-Big Ten school without issue.
This happens fairly commonly in football and hoops. Often a school will releaae a student from scholarship but will identify schools they will not allow the student to attend. Often that might be a school in the same conference or a key rival.
And that brings up the point of student-athlete rights. Who controls an athlete's career, the school or the athlete? Steve Politi wrote on this, and his opinion was supported by many.
This "student-athlete" is a WRESTLER! Let the unpaid, amateur STUDENT go to school where he wants. Don't stand in his way. https://t.co/MPDkbLP3er— Jay Bilas (@JayBilas) August 8, 2017
When a basketball guy like Jay Bilas speaks out, there’s more to the story than just a single transfer. Bilas has long been outspoken on the issue of athletes’ rights.
These are kids who, especially in the Olympic sports, aren't using college as a steppingstone to a pro career. They are there for an education, and shouldn't the individual student be able to choose where he gets that education?
At the very least, with Penn State coach Cael Sanderson opposing Suriano's transfer to Rutgers, it changes the conversation about RU. Why wouldn't he want Suriano to leave? Well, for one, Suriano would enter his sophomore season in Happy Valley as a favorite to win a national title. And a move back home to New Jersey allows Rutgers to be the beneficiary of that talent; Rutgers has never had an NCAA champion in wrestling. Suriano at Rutgers further legitimizes the Scarlet Knights as a wrestling force in the Big Ten and nationally. This would add credibility to Rutgers as a wrestling school. You wonder if Sanderson would block the move if he was looking at a lesser Big Ten program such as Maryland.
By the way, according to Flowrestling, Suriano is no longer listed on the Penn State roster.
At the same time, let's not cast Sanderson and PSU as some sort of horrific villains. They're playing by the rules as they exist. If the rules are wrong or unfair, it isn't their fault. But it also doesn't mean they can't do the "right" thing by releasing Suriano with no restrictions.
Nick Suriano to Rutgers is a home run for the Knights. It's a blow to Penn State, but not a devastating, program-depleting one. With him they are great; without him they're still a favorite to win the Big Ten, which means they're still great.
There have been appeals to the Big Ten for releases, and they’ve been granted in the past. Will this be another? How big a shadow do Cael Sanderson and Penn State cast in wrestling?
I’ve never been - and won’t be - one to say college athletes should get paid. They’re getting an education for free. But the NCAA, the schools and the conferences hold all the cards. If an athlete no longer wants to compete at a school he or she should be able to change. If the conferences want to do this on a case by case basis, so be it. In this one - and, yes, we’re biased RU fans - it doesn’t seem like there is a way to reconcile the PSU-Suriano breakup. So, let him go. Now. With no restrictions. It is a matter of fairness for the athletes in a process in which they have no power.
Nick Suriano will apparently now appeal to the Big Ten; a committee within the conference will make that decision. There has been no comment from the Big Ten or Penn State on the matter and no timeline for resolution has been mentioned.