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It's one of the paradoxes of college athletics: While coaches and administrators are essentially free to leave one school for another, athletes face various restrictions in doing the same thing. But the NCAA's transfer rules might soon tilt away from schools and toward college athletes -- at least a little.

The Division I Council Transfer Working Group is considering a change to the rule that allows schools to essentially control where athletes can transfer. The rule requires athletes to get permission from their current school before talking with other schools. Although the schools cannot bar their transfer, an athlete who didn't get a release to contact from his former school is barred from receiving an athletic scholarship from the destination school.

The most recent example was only a few weeks ago, when Kansas State football player Corey Sutton initially was denied permission to contact any of the 35 schools he said he had requested and called Wildcats coach Bill Snyder a "slave master" in a tweet. Snyder publicly defended his decision not to grant Sutton's request, but Kansas State relented, freeing Sutton to transfer to Appalachian State.

But creating heat for schools by going public has been the only real recourse for athletes such as Sutton.

The proposed change would allow athletes to receive scholarships after transferring regardless of whether they'd received permission to talk with other schools about transferring. Sutton, for example, would not have needed Snyder's permission to transfer to Appalachian State or anywhere else.

At this point, it's only an idea; the working group wants feedback from NCAA schools over the next few months.

The working group also would like to make sure conferences don't have policies that would be more restrictive than NCAA transfer rules. But it also considered whether transfer rules in every sport should be the same (currently, players in some sports must sit out a year, while players in other sports are immediately eligible).

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June 29, 2017


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