The NCAA could be preparing to change the way graduate transfers are counted on Academic Progress Rate scores as an increasing number of players take advantage of the graduate transfer rule without earning a second diploma. The NCAA’s Division I academic committee announced it will consider eliminating the automatic retention points on APR scores.
According to the committee, two-thirds of all graduate transfers in football and basketball never earn a graduate degree from their second school. The committee will consider not allowing graduate transfers to count for an automatic retention point if they are also enrolled in undergrad classes at their new school.
“This policy change could hold schools accountable for the academic progress of all students and make it more likely that students enrolled in graduate programs will receive the support and encouragement they need to finish their degree,” said committee chairman and Ohio University President Rod McDavis.
Since the NCAA started tracking academic progress using the APR scores, each student-athlete on a team has counted for one point per semester as long as they remain academically eligible. Another point has been granted as long as that same student remains in school. Graduate transfers have only had to be academically eligible in order to earn two points for that school and team.
We will have to wait and see what changes are made to the APR system. Its impact on football has already played a role in recent years. The minimum APR score for a football team to be eligible for postseason play is 930. Idaho and UNLV were initially banned from postseason eligibility in 2014 due to low APR scores, although UNLV managed to have their eligibility restored due to an updated APR score. Oklahoma State was punished with the loss of practice time but met other requirements to remain bowl eligible. No schools failed to meet the APR minimum in 2015, but APR scores did come into play with the postseason. With 5-7 teams being ruled eligible to fill vacancies left in the bowl line-up, schools with the highest APR scores with 5-7 records were extended the opportunity to participate in a bowl game. Nebraska, Minnesota and San Jose State all won their bowl games after going 5-7 in the regular season and being invited to the bowl season base don APR scores and/or other schools turning down the opportunity.
There is no word about changing the football eligibility of a graduate transfer. As the rule states now, graduate transfers are eligible to play right away the following fall. Undergraduate transfers must sit out a full season before playing again. The committee will also review the possibility of enforcing two-year scholarships for graduate transfers, which in effect could lead to a change in the automatic eligibility of a graduate transfer, but that may be an unlikely development.
The earliest any changes to the graduate transfer rules would occur would be the 2017-2018 academic year.