The rare circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic have caused the NCAA Division I Council to allow most student-athletes transferring from one Division I school to another to compete immediately.
A Wednesday press release from the NCAA outlined the new blanket waiver, which will allow all D-I transfers immediate eligibility as long as they were enrolled full time at the school for the fall 2020 term, it’s their first transfer from a four-year school, they left their previous school in good academic standing, and the athlete and head coach certify there was no impermissible recruiting.
“The Council continued its trend of voting in favor of maximum flexibility for student-athletes during the pandemic,” said Division I Council chair M. Grace Calhoun, who is also the athletic director at Pennsylvania. “Allowing transfer student-athletes to compete immediately will provide additional opportunities to student-athletes during this continued difficult time, and perhaps allow games to be played that otherwise might not have been.”
Athletes transferring from an institution outside of Division I must go through the regular waiver process. In the past, athletes who transfer in baseball, football, men’s and women’s basketball and men’s ice hockey without a waiver had to wait a full year before competing at their new school.
“We are thrilled at the passing of the blanket waiver as we believe it is in line with DI SAAC in ensuring that all of our student-athletes have the best opportunity to thrive both academically and athletically,” said Council member Caroline Lee, a former Southeastern Louisiana soccer player. “In a time of great uncertainty amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, we feel it is in our best interest to grant immediate eligibility for those who have transferred in order to best support their mental health and well-being.”
The waiver wasn’t universally agreed upon, as the NCAA noted that the men’s ice hockey coaches didn’t support the proposal because there are few transfers in their sport, and the Football Oversight Committee noted that the waiver is too late to help most schools playing that sport.
According to 247Sports, University of Miami (Fla.) men’s basketball coach Jim Larranaga wondered last week, “Why would you make a decision like this in the middle of December? If you are going to make changes, why aren’t you making them before the season starts?”
According to ESPN, the Division I Council is expected to vote in January on a one-time transfer waiver that would allow all student-athletes to transfer once without sitting out for a year.
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