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NCAA considering tinkering with transfer rules

The NCAA is considering tinkering with its current Division I transfer rules, according to a release from the NCAA on Wednesday.

The Division I Council Transfer Working Group met in Indianapolis Sunday and Monday and came away seeking input from the rest of Division I membership on recommendations that could significantly revamp the transfer process.

Headlining the list of suggestions would be to no longer require athletes to seek permission from their current schools to contact with prospective new schools in order to keep their scholarships intact. Presently, schools can prevent transferring players from receiving financial aid at new destinations if the school does not approve of that new destination. From the release:

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.

This would be a change that coaches should support. In the day and age of rapidly rising television contracts, the NCAA's argument that athletes -- and primarily football and men's basketball players -- are students first and not employees receives a harsh rebuke from the public when stories inevitably come out of student-athletes limited on schools to which their coaches will let them transfer -- all while multimillionaire coaches are free to break their contracts and work for a new employer immediately without seeking permission from their current school.

To keep kids at their current schools and prevent tampering, the Transfer Working Group suggested increasing education on transfer rules and requirements for all athletes before they arrive in school, and increasing penalties for coaches who recruit players on scholarship at other institutions.

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.

To curb the free agency-level culture of graduate transfers, the Working Group also suggested counting graduate transfers toward the 85-man limit for two years instead of one, and/or tinkering with the APR formula to incentivize graduate transfers to make progress toward an actual graduate degree while on scholarship at their new school.

Finally, the Working Group considered establishing Division I-wide rules for all transfers, abolishing an environment where Conference A has to abide by rules that Conference B doesn't. The group also considered forwarding the idea of making transfers immediately eligible provided they meet 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.

The suggestions will now be forwarded to the entire Division I membership with the possibility of putting a package to a vote in April of next year.