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DI Council appoints group to study transfers

Group places focus on graduate transfers, permission-to-contact

This spring, a new group will begin studying Division I transfer rules. Its goal: to recommend changes that will be considered during the 2015-16 legislative cycle.

During a conference call earlier this month, the Division I Council Coordination Committee appointed the Ad Hoc Transfer Issues Working Group to consider where improvements can be made to current rules. The group’s focus will be on graduate transfers and permission-to-contact rules.

“Student transfers are an important issue in higher education, and it is no different in athletics,” said co-chair Jere Morehead, president of the University of Georgia. “The group will be mindful of the integration of athletics and academics when creating recommendations for Division I transfer policy or legislation.”

Transfer rules were not included among the specific areas of autonomy within which the Division I Board of Directors has given the 65 schools in the Big 10, Big 12, ACC, Pac-12 and SEC the ability to make rules for themselves. However, the leadership in those five conferences indicated at that time that they were dissatisfied with the current transfer rules and hoped changes could be made quickly for students in the entire division.

One of the new group’s points of emphasis will be to consider whether to update the policy for graduate transfers to more closely mirror a new policy adopted last year for undergraduate transfers.

The current policy for student-athletes who have graduated allows them to compete immediately after transferring if they meet certain conditions, which includes getting written permission from their original school. Also, a graduate student-athlete who isn’t eligible for that one-time transfer exception may seek a waiver to compete immediately.

The group will discuss whether that policy should be consistent with the undergraduate transfer policy, which requires students competing in baseball, basketball, bowl subdivision football and men’s ice hockey to sit out of competition for a year after transferring. The new policy allows those students to request a waiver to extend the number of years they have to complete their eligibility, but they can no longer request a waiver to compete immediately.

That policy applies to any undergraduate student-athlete seeking immediate eligibility starting with the 2015-16 academic year, regardless of when they enrolled. The group that recommended the undergraduate policy change was interested in exploring similar guidelines for graduate students, pending further research into the issue.

The new working group will examine graduate transfer data collected by the NCAA research staff when considering whether changes would be appropriate.

In addition to the graduate transfer regulations, the group also will consider changes to the permission-to-contact rules. Currently, all students interested in transferring must receive permission from the athletics director at their school before another school’s athletics department can discuss with them the possibility of transferring. If permission isn’t given, students can still transfer to another school, but that school is barred from discussing the transfer or offering an athletics scholarship until the student has either been attending the new school for a year or has been withdrawn from their previous school for a year.

 High-profile situations that have arisen under the current rules have spurred some athletics administrators to believe a better solution is possible.

“We plan to build on the great foundation of work done by the Leadership Council subcommittee on transfer issues, specifically in the areas of graduate transfer and permission to contact,” said working group co-chair Keith Gill, athletics director at the University of Richmond. “We want to ascertain whether there are better ways to appropriately balance providing our students with the opportunity to transfer when necessary and ensuring that the recruiting process has an end once students are enrolled. I look forward to working with the group toward possible solutions.”

Exploring change

The Ad Hoc Transfer Issues Working Group will study Division I’s current transfer rules and make recommendations for changes to the Division I Council with a focus on balancing opportunities for students while at the same time deterring coaches from encouraging students at other schools to transfer. The working group’s members are:

  • Jacqueline Blackett – senior woman administrator, Columbia University. (Ivy League)
  • Bill Chaves – athletics director, Eastern Washington University. (Big Sky Conference)
  • Mark Dantonio – head football coach, Michigan State University. (Big Ten Conference)
  • Tim Day – Faculty Athletics Director, Iowa State University. (Big 12 Conference)
  • Bob De Carolis, athletics director, Oregon State University. (Pac-12 Conference)
  • Danielle Donehew – executive director, Women’s Basketball Coaches Association.
  • Keith Gill – athletics director, University of Richmond, co-chair. (Atlantic 10 Conference)
  • Jim Haney – executive director, NABC
  • Chris Hawthorne – football student-athlete, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
  • Amy Huchthausen – commissioner, America East Conference (America East Conference)
  • Blake James – athletics director, University of Miami (Florida) (Atlantic Coast Conference)
  • Bill Maher – athletics director, Canisius College (Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference)
  • Jere Morehead – president, University of Georgia, co-chair. (Southeastern Conference)