The NCAA is moving forward with a proposal that would end coaches' abilities to place restrictions on where a player can or cannot transfer. The Division I Transfer Working Group met this week in Indianapolis, where the group "affirmed its strong support" for the proposal.
Additionally, the Working Group wants to increase the penalties for programs caught tampering.
“We have strong support from the membership for allowing student-athletes to transfer and be recruited without losing their scholarships,” said South Dakota State AD and working group chairman Justin Sell. “We will ask the Division I Council to move forward with a vote on that proposal in June. This is meaningful change that will benefit student-athletes, schools and coaches.”
Perhaps more significantly, the Working Group moved forward with a proposal that would allow all players to transfer freely provided they hit an academic benchmark:
The members considered several different options, including a rule that would allow all college athletes, regardless of sport, to transfer and play immediately if they meet a specific benchmark grade-point average before transferring and meet progress-toward-degree requirements at the next school. The benchmark GPA has not yet been determined but would be between 3.0 and 3.5.
In another possible significant change, the Working Group considered allowing players who have their head coach leave after signing a National Letter of Intent to leave without penalty:
One concept for which the group expressed strong support would be a change to the policies of the National Letter of Intent to allow students who have signed an NLI to play immediately at a different school if a head coach leaves. NLI data show that the clear majority of students in that position receive a full release from their original school, and the working group will refer the issue to the Conference Commissioners Association for further study.
The group also supported allowing a similar ability to transfer and compete immediately for student-athletes who sign an NLI, enroll in classes and practice with a team only to have their head coach leave before the start of the season. These students have triggered enrolled student status and must serve a year in residence unless they meet a different exception. The working group believes all students who haven’t begun the academic year or competitive season should have the ability to transfer and play immediately.
Finally, the Working Group is seeking feedback on a proposal that would see graduate transfers count against a team's 85-man scholarship limit for the duration of his graduate program. This means that a player who transfers into a new school to play for one year would also count against the 85-man limit the following year if his graduate program lasts for two years.
This would be a punitive measure looking to discourage the acceptance of graduate transfers, as programs are not required to hold a scholarship for a transferring freshman for an additional three years. Feedback on this proposal was "deeply divided," and the group wants to solicit additional feedback.
The Working Group will continue to collect feedback from NCAA membership and will reconvene in June.