Indianapolis — The NCAA Division I Council has introduced legislation that would allow some athletes to transfer during the summer and be immediately eligible to play for a new school if there is a head coaching change before the first day of fall classes.
The NCAA announced Friday four new rules proposed by the council, which come less than two weeks before some previously passed transform reforms go into effect. The others would require schools to commit two years of financial aid for all graduate transfers, allow walk-ons to play immediately after transferring and prohibit athletes from competing for two different schools in the same academic year.
Currently, NCAA rules require athletes who have not graduated to sit out a season after they transfer to a new school. In some sports there is a one-time exception which athletes can use to be immediately eligible but that does not exist in high-profile sports such as football and basketball.
The latest proposal would create an opportunity for immediate eligibility for athletes who are enrolled in summer school and who have received athletic financial aid if a head coach departs before fall classes start. Summer coaching changes are unusual and typically involve off-field issue or scandalous behavior, especially in football where most coaching moves are made in the winter.
Over the last decade, football programs at Ohio State, North Carolina, Illinois, Arkansas, Baylor and Mississippi have fired head coaches in late spring or summer because of various issues from NCAA violations to lying to the administration to improper handling of sexual assault allegations. Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops retired in June 2017.
While the NCAA attempts to loosen some restrictions on transfers, it is potential making it more complicated for graduate transfers to switch teams after completing a degree. Graduate transfers would still be allowed to play immediately, but teams would lockup a scholarship for two years on that athlete, no matter how much eligibility the player had left — unless the athlete could complete the graduate degree before the start of the second year.
This will be the second round of transfer reform this year. Starting Oct. 15, athletes will no longer have to ask for permission to transfer from their current schools and schools cannot block transfers or dictate where they go.
The latest proposals could be adopted in April.