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Could Intraconference Transfer Rules Be Almost Over?

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Intraconference transfer rules — which place special conditions on student-athletes looking to transfer to a new school within the same conference — could soon become a thing of the past, as leagues are considering allowing their players more freedom of movement.

CBS Sports reports that Oklahoma head football coach Lincoln Riley is using the Big 12 Conference’s intraconference transfer rule to block Chandler Morris from competing at conference rival TCU. Currently, Morris is practicing with the Horned Frogs, but has not yet been released from his scholarship with the Sooners — which could cost Morris a year of eligibility and require him to sit out the 2021 football season if nothing changes. 

However, CBS Sports reports that the Big 12 is “heavily leaning” toward getting rid of the rule stymying Morris — a move which some say is indicative of where collegiate athletics is headed.

Earlier this month, the Atlantic Coast Conference announced that it would be doing away with its intraconference transfer rule, allowing for student-athletes from member schools to transfer and compete for another member school immediately. 

“The time has come for all student-athletes to have the opportunity to transfer and be permitted to compete immediately,” ACC commissioner Jim Phillips said in a release announcing the conference’s decision. “This decision is in the best interest of our student-athletes as it allows greater flexibility during their collegiate career.” 

Meanwhile, the NCAA is expected to vote on a one-time transfer exemption in April — which if approved as expected would grant blanket approval for student-athletes in revenue sports to transfer once within their college careers without sitting out a year to establish residence at a new institution. 

CBS Sports points out that the year-in-residence transfer rule only ever applied to five of the 24 sports sponsored by the NCAA: football, men’s and women’s basketball, baseball and hockey. That the rule only applied to these sports, and not others, is viewed by some as evidence that the logic behind the rule is flawed.

While no coach likes the idea of losing out on a student-athlete they recruited to a conference rival, the momentum behind player rights, as evidenced by the ongoing name, image and likeness debate, makes the prospect of continuing to restrict player movement difficult to continue.

As one Power Five administrator put it to CBS Sports, “There’s no ground to stand on anymore.”

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