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NCAA takes next step toward allowing all transfers to play immediately

The NCAA on Tuesday took the next step toward dropping its transfer restrictions and allowing all student-athletes a 1-time waiver to move schools and play immediately.

Such a proposal is now under consideration by the NCAA's Division I Transfer Working Group. A new rule could come into effect by 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.”

That comment from the MAC commissioner came after the Big Ten authored a proposal to grant all athletes a 1-time wavier, which the ACC endorsed on Monday.

Presently, athletes in all sports except football, basketball, baseball and men's hockey can transfer and play immediately. The tranfer guidelines in those sports that student-athletes must meet are as follows, and would be adopted by the money-making sports if approved:

  • Receive a transfer release from their previous school.
  • Leave their previous school academically eligible.
  • Maintain their academic progress at the new school.
  • Leave under no disciplinary suspension.

Of note, the first bullet requiring players to receive a release before transferring, has effectively been de-fanged by the NCAA in recent years.

“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.”

Instead, the waiver process has essentially boiled down to whether an athlete's family can afford to hire Tom Mars or one of his competitors to help them navigate the NCAA's byzantine waiver process.

Instead, it looks like the NCAA will eliminate that process entirely.

The Working Group will spend the next two months accepting feedback from NCAA membership before the Division I Council gathers to vote in April. If approved, the new rule would come into effect later this year.

Also of note, announced separately earlier this month:

As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.