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Proposed transfer model could cause drastic shake-up in college athletics

Jan 4, 2013, 3:48 PM EDT

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With the number of transfers in college basketball reaching 500 this past offseason and the awarding of immediate eligibility waivers lacking consistency, it’s clear that some steps needed to be taken to address the situation.

According to John Infante of The Bylaw Blog the NCAA is looking to do so, and if passed the new legislation could usher in a new era in collegiate athletics.

The new model that will be discussed by the NCAA Leadership Council this month will look to do the following, according to Infante:

  • Athletes would still need to get permission to contact another school before transferring. But permission would be tied to practice and competition, not athletics aid. So even if permission was denied, the student-athlete would still be able to receive a scholarship.
  • Athletes who qualify for the transfer exemption in the APR would be permitted to play immediately at the new school. That would make a 2.600 GPA the magic number to play immediately.
  • Athletes who do not qualify to play immediately at the next school would still receive an extension of their five-year clock so they can use all their eligibility.
  • Tampering with an athlete by another school would be considered a severe breach of conduct, a Level I violation, the highest in the NCAA’s new enforcement structure.

So student-athletes with a GPA of 2.6 or higher, if granted permission to compete at another institution by their previous school, would be eligible to play immediately. That would eliminate the year in residency currently required in transfer cases not involving an immediate eligibility waiver of some sort.

If a student-athlete transfers but isn’t granted permission by their prior institution to compete they would have to sit out the year. But the difference is that with the proposed setup permission will be tied to competition as opposed to the scholarship received, meaning that the transfer could still attend their next school on scholarship while sitting out that season.

Those who aren’t eligible to play immediately would essentially be granted an extra year on their “clock” (currently you get five years to play four), thus allowing them to keep that year of eligibility.

So how will all of this go over with the coaches, especially those at the low- and mid-major levels? Will there be a fear that this legislation could push college athletics closer to a “free agency” of sorts?

Hard to believe that coaches at schools that don’t have their “pick of the litter” when it comes to recruiting will be in favor fo such a move, and this is a topic that will be discussed quite often between now and when it could possible be up for vote in August.

The risk is there to develop a player, only to have him be taken off your hands by a higher-profile program. Sure there’s a chance that there will be cases in which high-level players who aren’t seeing the minutes they want can transfer and help out a low- or mid-major program. But those are the cases that will receive the bulk of the attention.

And when it comes to tampering, how would the NCAA really find out about a coach reaching out to a player’s AAU or high school coach and simply saying “if he’s interested have him give us a call?”

The NCAA means well in regards to the student-athletes here, but is this the best way to address the rising number of transfers? Given the amount of power the players would receive, it will be interesting to see if the schools ultimately sign off on this legislation.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.