More changes to the Division I transfer rules were proposed just last week by the NCAA Division I Council at their meeting in Indianapolis. These additional changes are not scheduled for a vote until April so likely won’t take effect until Fall 2019.
I will outline these key changes below, but for Division I athletes who are on an athletic scholarship, nothing will be changing about the rules that determine whether a student-athlete can be immediately eligible if they transfer to another Division I program.
The first proposed rule change will impact new incoming student-athletes to a Division I program (freshmen or transfers) who are attending summer school classes on an athletic scholarship (thereby triggering their status as a “student-athlete” at that university). Those athletes will be allowed to transfer and be immediately eligible IF their team has a head coaching change before Fall classes begin.
The second proposed rule change will allow more opportunities for walk-on athletes who have not received an athletic scholarship to transfer and be immediately eligible at another Division I university. There are current transfer exceptions that already allow that to happen, but those exceptions have conditions that restrict the number of athletes who can benefit from the exception. This proposed change will remove some of those restricting conditions.
The third proposed change should slow down the number of athletes in football and in men’s and women’s basketball who are transferring to Division I programs as graduate students. There has been a sense among many in NCAA leadership positions that some of these athletes (and the universities that bring them in) aren’t focused on the completion of their graduate degree, but are simply transferring to play for a different coach in their final year of eligibility.
As a potential consequence, football and basketball graduate transfers with just one season of eligibility remaining will be counted against their team’s scholarship limits for TWO years, unless the transferring athlete completes their graduate degree before the next academic year begins.
Here are a couple of points to keep in mind regarding these proposed rule changes:
First, these proposed changes will be reviewed by Division I universities and conferences which may result in amendments being proposed for these proposals. The impact of these changes on Division I athletes could be revised by the time the proposals are brought up for a vote in April.
Second, these proposed changes don’t address whether scholarship athletes who are transferring as undergraduates will still need the permission or agreement of the program they are leaving in order to be immediately eligible at their new university. Therefore, scholarship athletes should remember that their current coach and athletic department will probably still have the option to object to their immediate eligibility at a new university and might need to seek an appeal of such an objection.