While it’s already increasingly common in practice, the NCAA is reportedly on the verge of passing legislation that would allow all first-time transfers to compete immediately at their new school.
USA TODAY reported Wednesday that the NCAA Division I Council voted to allow all college athletes to change schools once during their undergraduate careers without penalty, which hasn’t always been the case in some of the NCAA’s most prominent sports. The vote, which is expected to be finalized when the Division I Council adjourns Thursday, would add immediate eligibility to first-time transfers in Bowl Subdivision football, basketball, baseball and men’s hockey.
The rest of the NCAA’s Division I sports are already allowing immediate eligibility, but transfers in the specified sports have traditionally had to sit out a season of competition at their new school unless they received a waiver or come in as a graduate transfer.
“Students ought to have that ability to transfer once, at least, during their career,” NCAA president Mark Emmert said during the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, according to USA TODAY. “I understand the complexity that that creates for coaches, and I understand that it does create uncertainty in roster management and all of that. But I think it's overdue that we provide that flexibility to students.”
Sports Illustrated reported that student-athletes wishing to transfer must notify their current school of their intent by May 1 for fall and winter sports, and July 1 for spring sports in order to be immediately eligible. Fall and winter athletes would get until July 1 this offseason.
Athletes looking to transfer more than once will still need a waiver to be immediately eligible at their third school and beyond.
USA TODAY reports that the Division I Council’s actions are subject to review by the Division I Board of Directors, but the board isn’t likely to intervene in their next meeting on April 28.
The athletes appear to be taking the NCAA up on the new rule, as about 1,200 college basketball players have entered the transfer portal this year, including players from nearly every team. According to 247Sports, almost 3,000 players basketball and football players entered the transfer portal.
The one-time transfer rule is the latest update in NCAA’s amateurism rules, as the association and state lawmakers have also been working toward allowing student-athletes to benefit from their name, image and likeness.