NCAA takes step toward allowing one-time transfers for athletes without sitting out

Things are moving quickly in favor of college athletes on the topic of transferring. On Tuesday, the NCAA’s Transfer Waiver Working Group announced a concept is under consideration that would allow undergraduate student athletes in all sports to transfer once without sitting out of competition for one year.  The concept comes on the heels of the an initial proposal from the Big Ten last year, which was publicly supported by the ACC on Monday. 

This would allow student-athletes across all sports to transfer once without sitting out a year so long as they: receive a transfer release from their previous school, leave their previous school academically eligible, maintain their academic progress at the new school and depart under no disciplinary suspension.

The current rule mandates that undergraduate transfers in football, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, baseball and hockey must receive a waiver from the NCAA to be eligible immediately.  

“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.” 

The waiver process for this to pass could mean that the concept goes into effect as early as this year.  

“Unsustainable” is the operative word. The NCAA’s transfer rules have long been archaic, bureaucratic and too subjective for its own good. While critics will lament a “free agency” or “slippery slope,” the reality is more than one-third of all college students transfer at least once (per the NCAA), and the rulebook is established to give its members and coaches more power than the players. Allowing a one-time transfer waiver streamlines a messy issue and, frankly, saves the schools from looking silly in the process. 

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