The NCAA is considering significant changes to its transfer policy for student-athletes. Most notably, players would not lose a year of eligibility by transferring and those student-athletes with a 2.6 GPA or better would be able to transfer and play immediately.
Currently, the rules are unfair for student-athletes. Players commit to a school for four years. Coaches, without non-compete clauses, can leave on a whim. Coaches maintain an undue influence over those student-athletes wishing to transfer, with power to withhold permission for the most frivolous of reasons (such as making the coach look bad). The solution is to address that unfairness without creating roster chaos.
Here are the changes under consideration:
Free Transfer With a 2.6 GPA: Student-athletes with a 2.6 GPA need not sit out a year. That’s the threshold for not affecting the school’s APR rating. It lets college presidents convince themselves academics is a crucial part of the equation.
Permission tied to participation and practice, not scholarships: A student can transfer without permission. Unlike now, he/she would be eligible to receive a scholarship, though he/she would be banned from any participation for one year.
Transfers Would Not Cost Eligibility: The five-year clock is not affected. Student-athletes forced to sit out would not lose a year of eligibility.
Tampering Would Be a Huge Deal: Tampering with a student-athlete would be a grave sin under the NCAA punishment regime. The NCAA wants to avoid the logical abuse of freer player movement, having a football player have a break out season at FIU and then have LSU, Alabama and Florida recruiting him to transfer. It works in theory, though it is unclear how this would be proven or enforced.
Though imperfect, implementing these compromise steps would be a definite improvement. We’re still not sure why, if these athletes are indeed “students,” they should need permission to pursue opportunities academic and extra-curricular at another institution.