HUNTINGTON — Wednesday’s meeting of the NCAA Division I Council was one of the most important meetings in recent memory.
While all the focus was on an expiring moratorium for on-campus events that opens the door for voluntary workouts to resume, there was another important agenda item discussed that directly impacts the immediate future of sports.
The NCAA announced Wednesday that it denied a one-time transfer waiver that would allow all college athletes to be immediately eligible at their new school.
It is not necessarily an ultimate defeat for transfers seeking immediate eligibility in the future, however. Instead, the path has been set to prepare legislation by January to address rules concerning the transfer process.
“The transfer environment has long been an issue of much discussion in Division I,” said M. Grace Calhoun, NCAA Division I Council chair and athletics director at Penn. “The Division I Council is committed to a uniform and equitable approach to transfer rules that considers student-athlete well-being and the opportunities available after transfer. We will not simply change the rule, but we will consider a comprehensive package designed to address the multiple complexities involved.”
As it currently stands, athletes in football, men’s and women’s basketball, baseball and men’s ice hockey all have to sit out one year under NCAA rules while those in other sports are immediately eligible. The one-time transfer waiver was introduced by the Transfer Waiver Working Group with the intention to allow immediate eligibility for all athletes.
In the NCAA’s release on Wednesday, it pointed out that the waiver process was “an unsustainable method to achieve lasting stability, consistency and transparency with the transfer environment.”
Wednesday’s vote comes after an April statement by the NCAA Board of Directors that changed the methodology for approaching transfers as the NCAA moves forward.
“The board agreed to lift the moratorium on transfer legislation for the 2020-21 legislative cycle but recommended to the Council that changes to the waiver process as suggested by the working group are not appropriate at this time,” the NCAA stated in April.
The board’s agreement to lift the moratorium placed on introducing legislation in the 2020-21 cycle is critical because it means dialogue and research can take place with an effort to present new legislation with uniform rules on transfers in all sports while taking into consideration all factors in regard to the student-athlete experience.
Some of those issues include academic aspects involved, roster management considerations, notification dates for transfers and procedural guidelines.
Had the one-time transfer rule had been adopted by the NCAA, it would have likely gone into effect in June, which would have been in time for the 2020-21 season, causing an influx in waiver requests in an already inundated time for the NCAA. Now, proposals will be put together by Nov. 1, so they can be introduced at the NCAA Convention in January, which falls in the 2020-21 legislative cycle. Should a vote come following the convention, those rules could take effect as soon as the 2021-22 season.