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DI committee reviewing transfer waiver guidelines

Examination to ensure standards align with membership expectations

After a recommendation from the Division I Transfer Working Group, the Committee for Legislative Relief this week began a holistic review of the membership-created guidelines used when reviewing waiver requests for students seeking immediate eligibility after transferring from one Division I school to another.

The review, which began during the committee’s Feb. 11-12 meeting in Indianapolis, will be comprehensive and review each category of waiver guidelines. The review will include feedback from Division I Council members and other stakeholders and would update the guidelines to ensure they are aligned with current membership philosophies. 

“The Committee for Legislative Relief is reviewing current transfer waiver guidelines to make sure they are in line with the membership’s expectations. We do believe attention on a small number of high-profile requests can skew perceptions of the scope of staff and committee review,” said committee chair Kaity McKittrick, deputy athletics director and senior woman administrator at Lafayette. “Each waiver request is reviewed individually, as they each present a unique fact pattern and almost always confidential information of the student. Our committee and the staff operate with the membership’s guidelines in mind, and are not driven by a specific approval percentage.”

As part of its review, the committee reviewed historical data that showed the number of student-athletes requesting and receiving waivers for immediate competition compared with the number of student-athletes who were transferring so far in the 2018-19 academic year.

 The committee noted that only a small percentage of student-athletes seek transfer waivers each year. The 2014-15 academic year was the last one in which waivers for immediate eligibility were available. In the intervening years, the waivers granted added an additional year of eligibility at the end of a student-athlete’s career.

Sport
# waiver requests 14-15
# approved 14-15
# waiver requests 18-19
# approved 18-19
Overall participation 17-18
Men’s basketball
73
53
79
43
5,537
Football Bowl Subdivision
54
36
29
19
15,505
Football Championship Subdivision
6
2
15
13
13,423
All sports
246
179
226
149
181,512

The waiver directive last changed in April to allow waivers for immediate eligibility in cases that met specific criteria. The guidelines also changed at that time to add an academic element and a requirement that the first school not oppose the waiver, in addition to the existing requirement that the student needed to transfer because of something outside that student’s control.

The committee asked the Division I Council for that change because of feedback from the membership that the previous standard for immediate eligibility waivers, which required egregious behavior impacting a student-athlete at the first school, was too stringent. The Council agreed and approved the new criteria.

Since that action, the Transfer Working Group and other membership groups have expressed a desire to re-examine the waiver guidelines. The goal is to have final recommendations for changes to the Division I Council before the start of the 2019-20 academic year. The committee's conversation is separate from a tabled Division I conversation that occurred last year that would have changed transfer rules overall.