When you see a headline like NCAA considering changing transfer rules, no one would blame you for assuming the changes they had in mind would work against student-athlete interests. With all the grumbling over grad transfers and schools blocking students from transferring to certain schools (Hi Bill Snyder), you figured it was just a matter of time before college athletics’ governing body came down with changes that rule in favor of the schools. Turns out…perhaps not?
The NCAA’s Division I Council Transfer Working Group released a collection of suggestions and the leading one could see the entire transfer system balance of power shift towards the players. Most notably, taking away the requirement that schools give permission for a player transfer before they can actually talk to other schools about it.
One of the ideas posed is to modify permission to contact rules. Currently, Division I college athletes who wish to transfer to another school must first receive permission from their current school to talk with other schools about opportunities for transferring. If the school denies permission, the student-athlete can’t receive athletics aid after transferring.
Group members believe financial aid should not be tied to whether a school grants permission to contact. They want to know if others in the membership feel the same way. The group also agreed that enhancements should be made to the formal process students use to notify a school of their desire to transfer. The group will seek input from the membership on appropriate enhancements.
Those stories about schools blocking a player from transferring to specific schools? That would be a thing of the past under this change.
Another suggestion that could help student-athletes out is an “ongoing review” of conference transfer rules. Let’s face it, conferences usually act in the best interest of member schools over the student-athletes. This could change that.
The iffy part to the suggestions is when we get into their thoughts on grad transfers. The “epidemic” of grad transfers has changed the landscape of college football and basketball and created an atmosphere some ADs and coaches have likened to free agency. While the panel didn’t suggest any wholesale changes to the grad transfer process, they did mention that they might want to “identify additional methods” to hold schools “accountable” for the player academics.
As Alex Kirschner at SBNation points out, that could either way. That cound mean holding grad transfers themselves accountable for keeping their grades up or it could mean shifting focus to schools who take on multiplegrad transfers and putting limits on them. They also throw out some potential ways to limit a school’s interest in taking on a grad transfer.
One potential approach could be to require that the financial aid provided to graduate students count against a team’s scholarship limit for two years, regardless of whether the graduate student stays for two years or leaves when their eligibility is complete.
Another concept for increasing that accountability is through the Academic Progress Rate calculation, specifically the eligibility and retention points for which a student would be held accountable as they pursue a graduate degree. The Committee on Academics discussed the calculation and the working group plans to continue conversations on the topic.
You could ask why a grad transfer needs to be treated differently to any other player and you could probably ask why APR is a valid measurement tool in this (or any) case. As for docking a school’s scholarship pool even if a grad transfer leaves after one year, it’s hard not to read that as anything but a deterrant.
Some of these suggestions could move forward and some could never see the light of day. With the NCAA, you never can tell. If anything does get far enough along for a vote, that won’t happen until April 2018 at the latest.