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NCAA council aims to change immediate eligibility waiver policy

Apr 18, 2014, 10:23 AM EST

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An issue that has popped up in recent years has been that of the graduate transfer, with athletes who have completed their undergraduate coursework at one school using their final year of eligibility at another institution while taking graduate courses. For those in favor of the rule that allows those athletes to play immediately, the positive is that the person is being rewarded for taking care of business in the classroom.

However detractors have cited the rule as one reason why there have been so many transfers, equating the current climate to that of free agency in professional sports. And with that in mind, the NCAA Division I Leadership Council has recommended changes to the current transfer system that would essentially do away with immediate eligibility waivers.

That means athletes would be able to transfer, but they would have to sit out a season regardless of the circumstances. And for those looking to use their fifth year (athletes get five years to complete four years of eligibility) at another school, they’d end up receiving a sixth year of eligibility.

“We hope this change will encourage student-athletes who must transfer based on hardships to focus on the circumstances prompting the transfer during their first year and adjust to their new school, while giving them a season back to complete their eligibility,” said Amy Huchthausen, commissioner of the America East Conference and chair of the Leadership Council subcommittee that examined the transfer issue.

For those who aren’t thrilled with the current climate regarding transfers, the word “epidemic” has been tossed around quite often. But has it really been that bad? One-third of college students in general, according to a study done by The Chronicle of Higher Education in 2012, transferred before completing their undergraduate coursework.

There are a variety of reasons why students, whether they’re athletes or not, make the decision to transfer. And to use the word “epidemic” in regards to just one category of students is a bit unfair.

The transfer issue, according to some within collegiate athletics, is something that needs to be addressed. This measure is an attempt to do so. The question now is whether or not the membership goes along with this move, thus eliminating the immediate eligibility waiver.