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Division II Legislation Committee recommends transfer proposal

Suggested notification model is like one adopted in Division I this year

The Division II Legislation Committee this week recommended the division sponsor 2020 NCAA Convention legislation to adopt the “notification of transfer” model that was established in 2019 in Division I.

The committee’s recommendation brings renewed energy to a conversation that began in 2018 to replace the Division II permission-to-contact legislation for four-year student-athletes with a model that would require schools to submit a student-athlete’s written request for transfer in the new transfer portal. Both the Division II Legislation Committee and the Management Council supported sponsoring similar legislation in 2018, but the Presidents Council voted to table the concept in August pending further review and discussion. In the months since, the division has gathered more data and feedback from committees in the governance structure and worked to educate members on the current and proposed transfer legislation.

The Legislation Committee’s new recommendation this week, made at its March 11-12 meeting in Indianapolis, differs slightly from its original recommendation in 2018. Unlike the first concept, the new recommended legislation would not permit a school to reduce or cancel a student-athlete’s athletics aid for the following term or academic year after receiving the athlete’s written notification of transfer. Division II schools now cannot reduce or cancel athletics aid in response to a student-athlete’s request to speak with other schools about a potential transfer. Both the Division II Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and the Presidents Council expressed concerns about giving schools the ability to reduce or cancel athletics aid, prompting the Legislation Committee to remove that provision from its recommendation.

“We spend a lot of time focusing on the student-athlete, and we really take a lot of consideration into hearing what they’re saying and what they’re thinking,” says Cherrie Wilmoth, associate athletics director and senior woman administrator at Southeastern Oklahoma State and chair of the Legislation Committee. “Finding ways to assist the student as we move forward is very important.”

Like the new model in Division I, the Division II concept would give more control to student-athletes looking to transfer. A Division II school would no longer be able to prevent a transfer student-athlete from receiving an athletics scholarship at a new school by refusing to grant permission to contact. The student-athlete’s current school would be required to submit the request for transfer in the portal within seven calendar days of receipt. Schools still could deny use of the one-time transfer exception, preventing the student-athlete from competing immediately at the new school and requiring the individual to sit a year in residence.

Although use of the transfer portal is not required in Division II, schools already can access it voluntarily — and many have. Of the more than 7,700 Division I and II student-athletes who are currently in the portal, about 32 percent, or 2,466, are Division II student-athletes.

Wilmoth says the portal is attractive to administrators as a “one-stop shop” that simplifies the current transfer process. Yet reservations still linger about student-athletes who request that their name be entered in the portal to “shop around” and the impacts that could have on coaches trying to determine rosters. 

The Management Council will next review the concept in April and determine whether to recommend the Presidents Council sponsor it as legislation for the 2020 Convention.

Certification of Compliance

The Legislation Committee also recommended noncontroversial legislation to amend the new certification of compliance legislation that recently was adopted across all three divisions. The amended legislation would require that athletics directors, in addition to presidents and chancellors, annually attest that they understand the institutional obligations and personal responsibilities imposed under the NCAA Constitution. The certification of compliance by presidents, chancellors and athletics directors will be required each year for a school to be eligible for individual and team championships. 

All three divisions will consider the following revisions to the current certification of compliance legislation:

  • Change the legislation to require each school’s president or chancellor and athletics director to attest they understand the applicable NCAA rules, rather than attest to complete compliance. This change would acknowledge the challenge these leaders face in knowing and therefore honestly attesting to their school’s complete compliance.
  • Require the athletics director to attest that all athletics department staff members are aware of the institutional obligations and personal responsibilities under the NCAA Constitution. The legislation does not require each individual staff member to provide an attestation; rather, it permits each institution to determine how the awareness by athletics department staff members occurs.
  • Change the deadline for certification from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 to accommodate schedules during a busy time of year.