The NCAA’s Division I Council Transfer Working Group on Wednesday unleashed a set of suggestions that could either radically change or slightly tweak the way transfers are handled in college sports’ highest level.
Let’s start with the (possible) radical changes. The working group is considering a suggestion that would make all transfers immediately eligible, provided they hit certain academic benchmarks:
Establishing uniform transfer rules — which would require everyone to follow the same rules regardless of the sport they play — was a topic that the group agrees will likely take longer to resolve. While most members agreed the concept of uniformity would be positive, what the specific rules would be is less clear.
Members discussed two models: One model would require every transfer student to sit out a year to acclimate to a new school; the other would allow all transfers to play immediately provided they present academic credentials that predict graduation at the new institution.
Walking back from that, the working group did recommend changing the transfer process to where players seeking new destinations would no longer need their former school’s approval. Considering the NCAA formally argues its athletes are merely students, and there is no limit on normal students receiving financial aid upon transferring to a new institution, this change should pass without a word to the contrary. But, you know, the NCAA is the NCAA.
Group members believe financial aid should not be tied to whether a school grants permission to contact. They want to know if others in the membership feel the same way. The group also agreed that enhancements should be made to the formal process students use to notify a school of their desire to transfer. The group will seek input from the membership on appropriate enhancements.
To curb a possible spike in transfers, the working group suggested upping penalties for coaches caught tampering with scholarship athletes at other schools.
The group expressed interest in increasing the consequences for coaches who break recruiting rules to seek out undergraduate and potential graduate students. The working group will ask the Committee on Infractions and enforcement staff to review the concept and provide feedback.
Finally, the working group suggested adding academic accountability to the graduate transfer market by either making graduate transfers count against the 85-man scholarship limit for two years or tweaking the APR formula to up the impact graduate transfers’ academic progress has in the system.
One potential approach could be to require that the financial aid provided to graduate students count against a team’s scholarship limit for two years, regardless of whether the graduate student stays for two years or leaves when their eligibility is complete.
Another concept for increasing that accountability is through the Academic Progress Rate calculation, specifically the eligibility and retention points for which a student would be held accountable as they pursue a graduate degree. The Committee on Academics discussed the calculation and the working group plans to continue conversations on the topic.
“I am thrilled with the great progress made this week, and I’m confident we can move forward with some initial concepts for consideration in this year’s legislative cycle,” South Dakota State AD and working group chair Justin Sell said in a statement. “We are working toward academics-based, data-driven decisions that benefit student-athletes, teams and schools.”
Any changes proposed by the working group are merely suggestions. The earliest any proposals could be voted on would be April 2018.