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NCAA Committee Ties Transfer Eligibility to Academics

Paul Steinbach

The NCAA Division I Committee on Academics appears intent on allowing student-athletes in high academic standing a one-time opportunity to transfer schools and compete immediately regardless of what sport the student plays.

The committee reiterated its support for the concept during meetings held earlier this month in Indianapolis. Currently, student-athletes in most sports must sit out a year of competition at their new school upon transferring, a practice that may both slow progress toward graduation and pose additional financial burden on those high-achieving transferring student-athletes and their new schools, according to data cited by the committee. The suggested rule change would create a seamless transition for student-athletes carrying, for example, a minimum grade-point average between 3.0 and 3.3 paired with progress-toward-degree requirements.

As reported at NCAA.org, committee members noted that at all other times in a student-athlete’s career, eligibility for competition is determined by a student’s academic record — for example, before they can compete as a freshman, whether they are making adequate progress toward a degree and after they have transferred from a two-year college. When Division I members created those standards, they considered the differences across degree programs, curricula and schools, as any four-year transfer rule would.

Not surprisingly, the proposal is supported by student-athletes. “You should be rewarded for your academics,” said committee member Nicole Sherwin, a representative of the national Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee who earned degrees in biomedical science and psychology while playing soccer at Northern Arizona. “Athletics (participation) is a privilege, not a right. It’s important that we remember that they are able to transfer to another school if they’d like to, but playing immediately would be a privilege for being in the right academic spot.”

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