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Council adjusts transfer waiver guidelines, addresses other topics

Guidelines clarify the process for members, prompt involvement from athletics directors

The Division I Council received updates about several ongoing topics and made several decisions at a meeting this week in Indianapolis that illustrated the depth of their responsibilities for running Division I on a day-to-day basis. Among their actions were clarifications of transfer waiver guidelines to help members understand what specific information to submit with waiver requests. No transfer rules changed.

Members participated in a workshop conducted by the NCAA Sport Science Institute that was designed to help campuses develop plans to promote and support student-athlete mental health issues. The council also heard updates from groups examining sports wagering issues, federal and state legislation related to college sports, and the coach credentialing pilot in Division I men’s and women’s basketball.

Council members received updates about several suggested changes to academic integrity rules and policies and agreed to urge conferences to provide feedback to the Division I Presidential Forum on those matters by July 1. They discussed athletics director accountability and received a preview of attestation and certification of compliance modules for presidents, chancellors and directors of athletics.

They met with representatives from the U.S. Olympic Committee and discussed the work of the USOPC Collegiate Advisory Council, including how the NCAA could work with USOPC to better support the nation’s most elite athletes training for international competition.

The group also discussed transfer regulations, adopting noncontroversial legislation to specify that a student-athlete would be subject to transfer rules after he or she enrolls in classes and attends the first day of class and then transfers to another school. Previously, students only had to enroll and be present on the first day of class to be subject to transfer status to attend a different school. The change brings the transfer trigger in line with the requirement for full-time enrollment.

Also in the transfer space, the group adjusted four of the 13 guidelines national office staff use when making an initial determination in transfer residence requirement waiver cases. The changes were acknowledged as minor adjustments to the waiver process intended to clarify the requirements, prompt more involvement from athletics directors and give guidance to members as they submit waivers.

When a school requests a waiver because it asserts a student-athlete no longer has the opportunity to participate at his or her previous school, the new school must provide proof that the student-athlete is in good academic standing and meeting progress-toward-degree requirements at the new school and a statement from the previous school’s athletics director indicating whether the student could return to the team; whether the student was dismissed from the team and the date of dismissal; whether the student was in good academic standing at the time of departure; and the reasons the student gave the previous school for the transfer.

Previously in such cases, the new school had to provide confirmation the student couldn’t return to the team for reasons outside his or her control; a statement from an academic authority indicating the student-athlete was in good academic standing and met progress-toward-degree requirements; and a statement from the previous school detailing its position on the request.

In cases in which the student-athlete transferred because he or she is the victim of egregious behavior directly impacting his or her health, safety or well-being, the new school must continue to provide objective documentation of the behavior and how it impacts the health, safety or well-being of the student-athlete. In addition, the new school also must now provide a statement from the previous school’s athletics director explaining why the student-athlete indicated he or she is transferring and proof that the student-athlete is in good academic standing and meeting progress-toward-degree standards at the new school.

Previously in cases alleging egregious behavior, the new school had to provide objective documentation of the behavior and the previous school’s position on the waiver request.

In cases where a student-athlete transfers because of the recent injury or illness of an immediate family member, the new school must provide contemporaneous medical documentation from the treating physician showing how the family member is debilitated; an explanation of the student-athlete’s role in providing care; confirmation from both the athletics director and faculty athletics representative that the student-athlete will be allowed to depart the team to provide care; a statement from the previous school’s athletics director explaining why the student-athlete said he or she was transferring; and proof that the student-athlete is in good academic standing and meeting progress-toward degree at the new school. The transfer must occur within or immediately after the academic year after learning of the injury or illness, and the guideline requires the new school be within 100 miles of the immediate family member.

Previously in such cases, the new school had to provide written documentation from the family member’s treating professional; contemporaneous medical documentation showing how the family member was debilitated; an explanation of the student-athlete’s need to transfer; and confirmation from the athletics director and faculty athletics representative that the student-athlete would be allowed to depart the team in order to provide care for the family member.

Additionally, the council approved new guidelines for staff to follow when considering transfer waivers in cases where a student-athlete transfers to be closer to their home or support system because of their own injury or illness.

In those cases, the school must provide contemporaneous medical documentation from the student-athlete’s treating professional showing the student-athlete is debilitated and was receiving treatment before the transfer; an explanation of the student-athlete’s need to transfer and treatment plan; and a statement from the previous school’s athletics director explaining why the student-athlete indicated he or she was transferring. The student also must be in good academic standing and meeting progress-toward-degree requirements at the new school. The transfer must occur in the academic year after diagnosis, and the new school must be within 100 miles of the student-athlete’s family or support system.

Previously, staff did not have specific guidelines in such cases, but a rise in waiver requests because of a student-athlete’s own injury or illness, particularly mental health issues, prompted the membership to create the guidelines approved by the council.

Finally, the council introduced into the 2019-20 legislative cycle several proposals that will be considered over the academic year:

  • Two proposals that would add new sports to the emerging sports for women list and create their structures: women’s wrestling and acrobatics and tumbling.
  • A proposal that would adjust multiple-team event legislation in men’s and women’s basketball. Current rules allow participation in 27 contests plus one multiple-team event (not to exceed four contests) or 29 contests without a multiple team event. The proposed changes would allow 28 contests plus one multiteam event (not to exceed three contests), 29 contests plus one multiteam event (not to exceed two contests) or 29 contests (without a multiteam event).
  • A proposal to increase minimum core financial penalty for one or more Level I or Level II violations from $5,000 to $25,000. 
  • A proposal that would require vacation of records as a core penalty when a student-athlete competes while ineligible in cases involving one or more Level I or Level II violations.