INDIANAPOLIS – For the second time in about three months, the NCAA is about to grant all college athletes the ability to immediately transfer to schools without penalty.
The Council of Division I, the organization’s main legislative body comprised primarily of school athletic administrators, met virtually Thursday to clarify the details of the landmark legislation, which reverses a policy from the 1960s. The group is expected to meet on April 15 to approve the measure, sources said. Illustrated Sports. The new transfer legislation would take effect immediately after it is approved by the NCAA Board of Governors, a meeting that could occur shortly after the DI Council’s decision.
Under current transfer rules, athletes in five sports, including men’s and women’s soccer and basketball, are not eligible for the first year of transfer unless they receive an exemption. The new rule would allow all athletes to move freely at least once, although it does include some stipulations. Athletes must submit a transfer notification prior to certain dates to be eligible at their next location. Fall and winter sports athletes would have to notify their schools by May 1, with one exception that extends the date to July 1 for an end-of-year head coach change or non-renewal of scholarships. Spring sports athletes would have until July 1.
However, Thursday’s discussion among DI Council members focused on making notification dates flexible this year, sources told SI.. Due to the timing of the decision and COVID-19, the reporting date for fall and winter sports may take longer in the summer.
During his annual press conference before the Final Four, NCAA President Mark Emmert expressed strong support for passing the one-time transfer exception, as he did in January. The NCAA was prepared to pass the transfer legislation at the time, until a letter from the Justice Department raised antitrust concerns and delayed the vote.
Since then, NCAA officials have met once with those from the Justice Department, Emmert says, and suggested that more meetings are planned.
“My hope is that we can get to a place where we understand your concerns and can move forward shortly,” Emmert said.
Later during the press conference, Emmert cited the ID Council’s evolving work on the one-time transfer exception, and even said he “anticipates” that it will pass.
“Students should have the ability to transfer once during their career and I understand the complexity it creates for coaches and roster management, but I think we need to provide that flexibility,” says Emmert.
What he didn’t mention is that the driving force behind the latest progressive changes to the NCAA rules is probably Congress. The NCAA is desperately pushing Congress to create a federal name, likeness, and likeness (NIL) bill and take over a group of state laws that are being hastily passed. Because of this, the organization is at the mercy of members of Congress who, on both sides of the aisle, are publicly flouting the association’s model of amateurism and pushing for progressive changes, such as transfer policy.
“What I’ve heard about the conversation with Mark Emmert is a clear sign of a lack of leadership,” Sen. Richard Blumenthall (D-Conn.) Said Thursday during a media call with a group led by players. “He says he wants Congress to help him, well, we’re going to give him hell.”
Last October, Illustrated Sports obtained a copy of the new one-time transfer legislation from the NCAA. In order to transfer and be eligible, athletes must also drop out of their former academically eligible school, in accordance with the proposal. An athlete’s previous school would have no ability to object to the transfer. The legislation prohibits athletes from competing in the same academic season at two different schools.
The NCAA would not place limits on the number of transferred athletes a DI program can accept in a given year, the legislation says. For now, the NCAA is not adjusting the starting counter limit that limits a soccer team to add more than 25 players in a year. However, that is a topic that will likely be examined in the coming months.
Intra-conference transfers are another sticking point. Many leagues force players to sit down for a year when they transfer from one conference school to another. The conferences would have to adjust their own rules to reflect the new NCAA change. In at least one conference, the ACC lifted its intraconference transfer rule earlier this year. The Pac-12 did so in 2019.
Relaxing the transfer rules is nothing new. The NCAA has adopted a number of changes related to player-friendly transfers in the last two years. For example, schools no longer have authority over a player’s transfer destination, a change that coincided with the creation of the transfer portal in Fall 2018. Players who graduate can now play immediately after transfer within their own conference, and most schools release the signers of their letters of intent if a head coach leaves the school before the first semester.
The latest change could reverse a long-standing rule adopted across the NCAA in the early 1960s, one that originated more than a century ago when a group of Ivy League schools agreed to a one-year no-go provision for the players transferring between them. Under current policy, players can freely transfer and play immediately in all sports except baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, soccer, and men’s ice hockey.
While many administrators agree that they want a unified transfer rule, they admit to varying degrees of concerns, most of them stemming from an anticipated increase in transfers. Without a one-year ban, players will be more inclined to leave.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.