Written By: Grace Carlo, Staff Writer
The NCAA’s Division I Council voted last Thursday to approve a plan which enables all college athletes to transfer one time as undergraduates without having to sit out a season.
Prior to this rule, athletes playing football, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s ice hockey and baseball were required to sit out a season after transferring. Previously, there were exceptions granted based on a waiver system, but the new rule makes the transfer process easier for athletes in the five largest revenue-generating sports.
The NCAA stated that the student-athlete experience should mirror that of a regular student, which is why it is important to have transfer freedom.
“Students ought to have that ability to transfer once, at least, during their career. 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,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said.
Increasing player freedom is not a new conversation, but the new rule is accompanied by several concerns: fewer scholarships available to high school recruits, bigger programs taking away players from smaller schools and rosters becoming a lot larger.
Penn State Head Football Coach James Franklin noted that he does not believe the new rule changes much for coaches or athletes from the waiver system which existed before the new rule.
“I don’t think anything’s changed,” he said . “Over the last two years, everybody knew all the transfer policies and the requirements to get immediate eligibility, and everyone was saying whatever they had to say to become eligible.”
The waiver rule was the NCAA’s first attempt to accomplish the goal of player freedom, and set the precedent for immediate eligibility for players who wished to transfer. The new transfer rule promises immediate eligibility for athletes across the board, which corrects the issue of inconsistency in the acceptance of the waivers.
The new rule raises particular concerns for college basketball, as mid to low major players will now have the ability to transfer to power conferences, and teams could become unfairly stacked.On the flip side, high school recruits who are not getting playing time are able to transfer out of a power conference.
“I think it’s headed in the right direction,” Arkansas Head Football Coach Sam Pittman said. “I think the one-time transfer is the key there, though. I don’t think it’s let’s transfer once a year. At some point, you’ve got to stick and make it happen and make it work for you.”
The new rule requires fall and winter sports athletes to notify their current schools their intent to leave by May 1. Spring sports are required to do so by July 1 starting in 2022.