The NCAA finally made good on a longtime promise earlier this week when it formally adopted a new, four-tier penalty structure designed to better streamline and deal with what the Association is now referring to as “breach of conduct.”
Not but two days later, the NCAA has modified guidelines involving transfer waivers — specifically as it pertains to family illnesses and immediate eligibility. If an athlete transfers from one school to another in order to be closer to home because of an illness/injury to a family member, he/she will be considered for immediate eligibility under the following circumstances:
- The school presents medical documentation of a debilitating injury or illness to a student-athlete’s immediate family member that is debilitating and requires ongoing medical care. The previous standard had been “life-threatening.”
- The student-athlete demonstrates he or she will be responsible for regular, ongoing caregiving responsibilities. The previous standard required the student-athlete to be the primary, day-to-day caregiver.
- The school is within a 100-mile radius of the immediate family member’s home, which demonstrates the ability for the student-athlete to provide regular, ongoing care. Previously, no distance limitation was in place.
- The school to which the student-athlete is transferring must submit a statement from the athletics director and faculty athletics representative confirming that the student-athlete will be relieved of responsibilities to the team in order to care for the injured or ill family member, and that the coaching staff will support such a departure.
You can read the entire release HERE.
The goal of the modifications is be more consistent on a case-to-case basis (something the NCAA has admitted it’s working on), so this is at least a minor victory for athletes in that they should receive approval to play right away so long as they meet the above criteria.
What the new guidelines do not change, however, are the restrictions a coach and a program can place on athletes transferring with grant-in-aid assistance. “The waivers do not affect whether a student-athlete can transfer to another school or receive financial aid at another school; the only issue is whether they can play immediately,” the NCAA states.
In other words, if an athlete wants to transfer closer to home to be with a sick parent, he/she is still at the mercy of their coach to grant the release with grant-in-aid. If that coach is a heartless jerk, then the athlete is still out of luck.
The modification to the waiver policy is an improvement to be sure, but the decision-making power on transfer restrictions still lies in the same hands — meaning so does the power to screw over an athlete that needs to be closer to their family all in the name of making sure they don’t play for a future opponent.