You are here

Autonomy conferences adjust aid rules

Change allows for scholarship changes in transfer situations

In an expected next step, the Division I autonomy conferences Tuesday voted to allow schools to cancel a student’s scholarship at the end of a term if the student-athlete notifies the school of an impending transfer.

The decision is part of a comprehensive package of transfer reform that began last week with the Division I Council’s adoption of legislation allowing student-athletes to transfer and receive a scholarship without first asking for permission from their current school.

In 2015, the Atlantic Coast, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and Southeastern conferences adopted a rule preventing schools from canceling a student-athlete’s athletics aid except in a specific set of circumstances, including academic ineligibility and disciplinary actions. Tuesday’s action adds notification of transfer to that list.

Schools can cancel the aid of a student-athlete as soon as he or she provides written notification of transfer, but the aid may not be reduced or canceled until the end of the term. Schools can re-award the scholarship at the end of the term, subject to other financial aid rules.

The Transfer Working Group recommended the autonomy conferences adopt the proposal, which also was supported by the Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. SAAC chair Noah Knight, former men’s basketball student-athlete and graduate of the University of Missouri-Kansas City, said his fellow committee members supported the proposal to hold student-athletes accountable.

“In fairness to the transfer student-athlete’s teammates, coaching staff and overall team dynamic, the Division I SAAC felt that a student-athlete should not be able to give notification, search for other opportunities, then return to their institution if dissatisfied with their options with no repercussions,” Knight said.

The sponsoring conference, the Big 12, noted that allowing schools to cancel aid immediately provided a measure of fairness to student-athletes remaining at a school.

The autonomy vote is seen as a companion piece to the transfer legislation adopted by the Division I Council last week, which allows students greater choice of schools to attend when they want to transfer because they now can get a scholarship from a school after transfer without having to receive permission from their current school. The legislation also strengthens the penalties for coaches who tamper with student-athletes on other Division I rosters and creates a national database so that schools know which student-athletes are interested in transferring.

The 65 schools in the five autonomy conferences and the 15 voting student-athletes participated in a web-based discussion forum Monday, and votes were cast electronically Tuesday. Additionally, this week, the Collegiate Commissioners Association will consider changing National Letter of Intent rules to allow more freedom for student-athletes who have signed an NLI but are interested in considering new schools after their head coach leaves before they enroll.