The NCAA is taking steps toward allowing all student-athletes to be eligible immediately after their first transfer.
The NCAA announced Tuesday that the Transfer Waiver Working Group is developing a plan that is expected to be presented to the Division I Council in April for adoption. The goal is to approve the proposal during the 2020-21 academic year.
“The current system is unsustainable,” said working group chair Jon Steinbrecher, the commissioner of the Mid-American Conference. “Working group members believe it’s time to bring out transfer rules more in line with today’s college landscape. This concept provides a uniform approach that is understandable, predictable and objective. Most importantly, it benefits students.”
The NCAA press release said that the concept would expand the rules that are already present in every sport except baseball, basketball, football and men’s hockey. First-time Division I transfers would be able to compete immediately if they receive a transfer release from their previous school, leave their previous school academically eligible, maintain their academic progress at the new school and leave under no disciplinary suspension.
“We know that challenges will exist with this concept, particularly as it relates to other coaches potentially tampering with currently enrolled student-athletes,” Steinbrecher said. “The working group will continue to examine this, as well as any potential financial aid and academic impacts, so the Council can make a fully informed decision.”
Several voices spoke out with concern over coaches stealing players away from other colleges.
“It leads to opportunities for recruiting off other campuses,” American Football Coaches Association executive director Todd Berry said, according to the Associated Press. “If you’re at another program, why would you take a high school player? Why not go get one that’s already proven in college?
“It might pass, but I’m afraid of what the outcome will be. This is not a hypothetical. The rule was in there for a reason. If they go through with this, I’m not sure everybody will like the outcome.”
Mark Richt, former Georgia coach and current ACC Network analyst, Tweeted that he is against the one-time transfer proposal.
“I know, I have an idea,” Richt said. “You recruit and develop players and when I think they’re good enough I will poach them from your roster! Welcome to what the new normal will look like in college football!”
The working group, which was created last fall, believes that student-athletes who transfer multiple times should still have to go through the waiver process.
Debate over the transfer process has increased in recent years. A 2018 National Student Clearinghouse study estimated that 39 percent of undergraduates who start at a four-year institution transfer at least once. That study found that 12 percent of Division I student-athletes had transferred from other schools.
“More than a third of all college students transfer at least once, and the Division I rule prohibiting immediate competition for students who play five sports hasn’t discouraged them from transferring,” Steinbrecher said. “This dynamic has strained the waiver process, which was designed to handle extenuating and extraordinary circumstances.”
Related content: NCAA DI Council Passes New Transfer Rules
The Big Ten Conference and Atlantic Coast Conference have both recently expressed their support for one-time transfer rules.
“We have five sports that are not allowed to transfer in this day and age,” Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel told CBS Sports last month. “That is something we need to fix. We need to give all young people flexibility to transfer once. If they transfer a second time, there is no waiver.”
Related content: ACC Supports One-Time Transfers
Related content: Big Ten Wants to Allow Transfers to Play Immediately