Presently, all college athletes except those in football, basketball, baseball and men’s hockey can transfer to another institution and play immediately. That could soon change.
The NCAA on Tuesday announced the Division I Transfer Working Group will consider granting all student-athletes a 1-time waiver to transfer without penalty, and if approved the change could come in effect in time for the 2020-21 academic year.
“The current system is unsustainable. Working group members believe it’s time to bring our transfer rules more in line with today’s college landscape,” said working group chair Jon Steinbrecher, commissioner of the Mid-American Conference. “This concept provides a uniform approach that is understandable, predictable and objective. Most importantly, it benefits students.”
If approved, the NCAA would now allow athletes to transfer without penalty as long as they: A) receive a release from their current school (and the NCAA has greatly restricted schools’ ability to restrict transfers in recent years), B) leave their outgoing school academically eligible, C) maintain eligibility at their current school, and D) are not suspended by their outgoing school.
The NCAA in 2018 liberalized its waiver process on a case-by-case basis, but those cases ended up boiling down to whose families had the money to hire the right lawyer, and often had nothing to do with the merits of their case. Rather than try to officiate that byzantine process, the NCAA is moving toward scrapping it.
“More than a third of all college students transfer at least once, and the Division I rule prohibiting immediate competition for students who play five sports hasn’t discouraged them from transferring,” Steinbrecher said. “This dynamic has strained the waiver process, which was designed to handle extenuating and extraordinary circumstances.”
The Transfer Working Group will solicit feedback from NCAA membership in advance of a vote by the Division I Council in April.