NCAA pushes conversation on one-time transfer issue to May due to more pressing matters

Any recommendations on a one-time transfer rule for major-sport athletes will not come until at least May, the chair of the working group overseeing the issue told CBS Sports.

That issue had previously been on the calendar to be considered by the NCAA Council in April. However, the combination of upheaval caused by the coronavirus pandemic and an emphasis to address the name, image and likeness issue first has delayed consideration of the transfer concept.

“It’s being pushed back because people are buried,” said MAC commissioner Jon Steinbrecher, the working group chair. “[They’re] trying to keep the doors open besides doing the business of the association.”

Steinbrecher said transfer “concepts will be presented and shared” with the council during its meeting April 23-24. He has stressed throughout the process that any significant change in the current transfer atmosphere is not a certainty.

Stadium reported Wednesday that Steinbrecher is “hopeful” the issue could be taken up by the Council in May. “Action could be taken in May. It could be taken in June,” he told CBS Sports.

The NCAA said in February the working group was seeking feedback on the one-time transfer issue.

That working group will recommend whether athletes in all sports are allowed a one-time transfer in their careers without sitting out. Currently, athletes in football, men’s and women’s basketball, baseball and hockey must serve a year in residence before playing at their new school.

The potential change is seen as one of the most significant in recent NCAA history. Football and basketball coaches in particular have been critical of change, citing de facto “free agency” for athletes that would cause roster management issues.

Complicating matters was a Thursday demand by the National College Players Association for NCAA emergency legislation allowing all athletes immediate transfer freedom.

Citing the impact of the coronavirus, the NCPA called for emergency legislation allowing all athletes immediate transfer freedom “if they are not given a written guarantee within 30 days that they will receive an athletic scholarship that covers the full cost of tuition and fees.”

Athletes in spring sports were granted an extra year of eligibility last month after the coronavirus ended their seasons early. There was somewhat of a poison pill in that resolution. Seniors in those sports, while allowed to return, aren’t guaranteed to receive any scholarship money if they do come back.

The NCPA also called for immediate name, image and likeness rights. That issue will be taken up by the council this month. Recommendations will be heard from an NIL working group. Legislation could be in effect by 2021.

The goal for the transfer changes was to be in place for the 2020-21 academic year. Steinbrecher disputed speculation that any transfer changes could be pushed back to the 2021-22 academic year.

“People ought to be careful what they say,” Steinbrecher said. “… For anybody to peg a specific date right now is purely hypothetical. We’re moving together in all deliberate speed, making a good faith effort to deliver something. It could be enacted shortly after it’s passed. It could be delayed.” 

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