NCAA to Approve Unlimited Transferring With Immediate Eligibility

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The freest free agency in all of sports is about to get even freer. The NCAA Division I Council on Wednesday unanimously adopted a package of rules changes to allow transferring student-athletes who meet certain academic eligibility requirements to be immediately eligible at their new school, regardless of whether they transferred previously, according to an association announcement.

The council's action is not final until the meeting concludes today and is subject to ratification by the Division I Board of Directors at its meeting later this month. If ratified, the rules would be effective immediately.

"Specifically, to be immediately eligible after a transfer, undergraduate student-athletes would have to have left their previous school while academically eligible and in good standing (not subject to disciplinary suspension or dismissal) and meet progress-toward-degree requirements at their new school before competing," Meghan Durham Wright reported at ncaa.org. "For graduate transfer student-athletes to be eligible, they would have to earn a degree from their previous school, leave while academically eligible and be enrolled as a full-time postgraduate student while continuing to satisfy minimum academic standards."

"With these rule changes, NCAA members continue to prioritize long-term academic success for college athletes who transfer, while supporting their opportunity to compete immediately," said Lynda Tealer, deputy athletics director at the University of Florida and chair of the council. "We hope that this practical approach to transfer eligibility requirements will encourage student-athletes to make well-informed decisions about transferring and the impacts such a move could have on their ability to graduate on time in their degree of choice, particularly as it relates to transferable credits."

According to Wright's report, student-athletes will be expected to enter the Transfer Portal within their sport's notification-of-transfer windows, which Division I members emphasized are important for providing transparency to student-athletes and coaches for recruitment opportunities, roster management and financial aid planning. There will continue to be exceptions to the legislated transfer windows, including for the departure of a head coach or a discontinued sport. Student-athletes who plan to enroll as graduate students at their next school can enter the portal at any time during the academic year but must enter the portal prior to the conclusion of their respective sports' final transfer windows.

"In addition to reviewing the council actions during its meeting next week, the Division I board will consider directing the Committee on Academics to examine criteria for academic waivers and consider the creation of a Transfer Academic Progress Rate, which would give real-time information about the academic health of a school's four-year undergraduate transfer student-athletes," Wright reported. "The board also will consider charging the Committee on Academics to study the creation of a Graduation Passport, which would specifically track academic progress and will provide a measure of graduation outcomes for student-athletes who transfer. This resource would be the first metric of its kind to specifically track graduation for students who transfer. Currently, the federal graduation rate does not count transfers as graduates, and the NCAA's graduation success rate generally assumes outcomes based on the academic status at the time of a student-athlete's departure."

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