In January 2013, the NCAA Division I Leadership Council, made up of mostly athletic directors, was looking at loosening transfer restrictions especially in the sports that do not have access to the one-time transfer exception (football, basketball, baseball, and men’s ice hockey). As of April 2013, those changes had been scaled back significantly, with the focus shifting to changes to permission to contact.
The July meeting was dominated by discussions surrounding the ongoing governance review and reform. But in October 2013, the issue of immediate eligibility for revenue sport athletes was back on the front burner, albeit in a much different light.
At that October meeting, the Leadership Council directed the subcommittee to focus on two concepts:
- To require all student-athletes in FBS football, basketball, baseball, and men’s ice hockey to sit out for one year following a transfer, eliminating the opportunity to earn immediate eligibility through the waiver process.
- To require graduate transfers in FBS football, basketball, baseball, and men’s ice hockey to sit out for one year following a transfer, potentially eliminating both the graduate transfer waiver and graduate transfer exception.
In both cases, student-athletes who currently would be granted waivers or immediate eligibility through the graduate transfer rules would receive a an extension to their five-year clock if necessary to use all four seasons of competition. Here is how this might work in a couple of scenarios:
- A basketball player who qualifies for a waiver transfers after using his redshirt year: would receive a clock extension.
- A baseball player who qualifies for a waiver transfers but still has a redshirt opportunity: would not receive a clock extension.
- A basketball player who graduated in four years and and transfers after using her redshirt year: would receive a clock extension.
- A football player who graduated in three years and did not redshirt: would not receive a clock extension.
- An ice hockey player who graduated in three years after using his redshirt year: would receive a clock extension.
Immediate eligibility would still be available for transfer waivers, but only in “extremely limited circumstances”. The Leadership Council report has no indication what those circumstances might be. For graduate transfers, the subcommittee is also asked to consider whether tougher academic eligibility standards for graduate students are necessary. Currently graduate students must only be enrolled full-time, remain in good standing, and pass six hours each semester, with no percentage-of-degree requirements, minimum GPA, or additional credit hour requirements.
Given the history of the Leadership Council’s transfer review, it is impossible to say how likely it is that any of this ever makes it into the Division I rules. Additionally, the governance review has already pushed transfer issues onto the back burner once and may do so again in January. On the other hand, changes to the transfer waiver guidelines may not require changes to the Division I Manual, meaning they could be implemented very quickly. Anything from these concepts being adopted for transfer waivers and graduate transfers this August to a completely new direction for the subcommittee is possible.