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DI Council adjusts transfer rules

Playing immediately without a waiver now allowed in some situations, but graduate transfer proposal defeated

Student-athletes in some specific situations can now transfer and compete immediately without a waiver, the Division I Council decided this week. The Council met Thursday and Friday in Indianapolis.

Incoming freshman college athletes who have enrolled in summer school and received athletics financial aid can transfer and play immediately without a waiver if their head coach departs before the first day of classes for the fall term. Additionally, walk-on student-athletes on teams that provide athletics aid and nonrecruited walk-ons can transfer and play immediately without a waiver. Those rules are effective for students who transfer to new schools this fall.

The changes were supported by the Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.

“It’s definitely a win in our books,” said Enna Selmanovic, SAAC vice chair and a former swimmer at Cincinnati who will graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences. “(Allowing student-athletes in certain situations to transfer and play immediately) provides student-athletes with more opportunities to have the best experience possible within their collegiate career.”

The Council also defeated a proposal that would have required schools to count financial aid for some postgraduate transfers against team limits for two years, regardless of whether the student remained enrolled after exhausting athletics eligibility. The proposal would have applied only to student-athletes competing in football and basketball.

Finally, Council members voted to prohibit student-athletes from competing for two different schools in championship season in the same academic year.

These changes all were proposed by the Division I Transfer Working Group, which also proposed the notification of transfer legislation that eliminated the need for student-athletes to receive permission from their current school in order to transfer and receive an athletics scholarship. The working group disbanded last year.

The Council also reviewed the cross-divisional strategic plan for women’s basketball from 2019-2024, developed in concert with the Women’s Basketball Oversight Committee. The Council supported the plan, which evolved over the last year. The plan engaged more than 1,000 stakeholders in the sport across all three NCAA divisions, including coaches, athletics administrators, current and former college athletes, and the leadership of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association, USA Basketball, ESPN, numerous media personnel and other strategic partners.The plan is based on the unique values that define NCAA women’s basketball and seeks to unify and grow the women’s basketball community; empower college athletes to achieve their full potential; celebrate and elevate the game; and create an inspiring experience for all involved.

The plan will be introduced to the NCAA membership later this month.

In other action, the Council:

  • Adopted noncontroversial legislation requiring athletics directors to certify that they understand the school’s obligations and personal responsibilities and that the athletics department staff is aware of those responsibilities and obligations. This step was based on a recommendation from the Commission on College Basketball.
  • Defeated a proposal to add an additional countable assistant coach in baseball and softball.
  • Adopted a rule requiring member schools to complete an equity, diversity and inclusion review once every five years and provide written confirmation to the national office.
  • Tabled a proposal that would have eliminated the requirement that an injury or illness must occur in the first half of the playing season for a student-athlete to be eligible for a seasons of competition hardship waiver. The proposal will be considered as part of the larger conversation about seasons of competition rules.
  • Recommended that the Division I Board of Directors adopt legislation for the 27 nonautonomy conferences in Division I that mirrors a new rule adopted by the autonomy conferences in January. The legislation, which requires schools to make available mental health services and resources to student-athletes, is the first to use a new process that provides a way for schools outside the autonomy conferences to consider proposals already adopted by the Atlantic Coast, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and Southeastern conferences.

All adopted proposals apart from those adopted as noncontroversial will be considered final at the close of the May 1 Division I Board of Directors meeting. The noncontroversial proposals are effective immediately.