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Working group supports notification-of-transfer proposal

Uniform transfer rule still under consideration

The Division I Transfer Working Group affirmed its strong support for a proposal that would eliminate the ability of schools to influence athletics scholarships provided to student-athletes after they transfer. The group met this week in Indianapolis.

Working group members also continued to back a proposal that would strengthen the penalty for tampering with a college athlete at another school.

“We have strong support from the membership for allowing student-athletes to transfer and be recruited without losing their scholarships,” said working group chair Justin Sell, athletics director at South Dakota State. “We will ask the Division I Council to move forward with a vote on that proposal in June. This is meaningful change that will benefit student-athletes, schools and coaches.”

After reviewing conflicting feedback from the Division I membership around a rule that would provide uniform eligibility for all student-athletes, the working group decided to continue exploring options for such a rule.

The members considered several different options, including a rule that would allow all college athletes, regardless of sport, to transfer and play immediately if they meet a specific benchmark grade-point average before transferring and meet progress-toward-degree requirements at the next school. The benchmark GPA has not yet been determined but would be between 3.0 and 3.5.

Other options included a model that eliminates the one-time transfer exception that allows student-athletes in some sports to compete immediately after transferring once during their college participation. In addition, working group members were receptive to listening to reasons advanced by any sport that believes different rules for different sports are warranted.

Membership feedback — and opinions on the working group itself — show a wide range of ideas on the subject. Working group members also acknowledged that other ideas might be appropriate to consider, as well.

Members also are mindful of the work of the Commission on College Basketball. Created last year to address issues in Division I men’s basketball after a federal investigation into the sport’s recruiting practices, the commission could have wide-ranging recommendations that might touch on transfers in the sport. Working group members were hesitant to move forward with a proposal that could contradict a commission recommendation. The commission’s recommendations are expected next week.

The working group will continue to study and pursue different concepts and seek feedback.

One concept for which the group expressed strong support would be a change to the policies of the National Letter of Intent to allow students who have signed an NLI to play immediately at a different school if a head coach leaves. NLI data show that the clear majority of students in that position receive a full release from their original school, and the working group will refer the issue to the Conference Commissioners Association for further study.

The group also supported allowing a similar ability to transfer and compete immediately for student-athletes who sign an NLI, enroll in classes and practice with a team only to have their head coach leave before the start of the season. These students have triggered enrolled student status and must serve a year in residence unless they meet a different exception. The working group believes all students who haven’t begun the academic year or competitive season should have the ability to transfer and play immediately.

The working group intends to seek feedback at spring conference meetings and will meet again in June to continue its work.

Additional notification-of-transfer legislation details

The proposal that would prevent schools from impacting the ability for a student to receive aid after transfer also includes the creation of a national database for transfer student-athletes to make it known that they wish to be recruited by other schools.

The working group will request one modification to that legislation. In the current proposal, schools have five business days after a student notifies the school he or she will transfer to enter a student-athlete’s name into the database. At the request of coaches on the working group, the members would like to shorten that time to two business days. That change would promote integrity among coaches as they recruit transfer students.

If adopted, the proposal would be effective Oct. 15.

Additionally, the working group supported a concept suggested by autonomy conferences, which have the authority to change some financial aid legislation. The concept would allow schools to cancel scholarships or not renew them at the end of a term in which a student-athlete notifies the school he or she will transfer. The autonomy conferences have until May 1 to introduce potential proposals to adjust financial aid rules, which currently prevent schools from reducing or canceling aid if a student-athlete gives notice of transfer.

If a proposal is introduced by May 1, the autonomy conferences could conduct an electronic vote shortly after the Division I Council’s June meeting.

Postgraduate transfers

The working group is interested in membership feedback on a proposal that would require schools that accept graduate transfers to offer aid — and count it against team limits — for the duration of the graduate program in which the student enrolls. With this concept, even if a student leaves after the first year of a two-year graduate program, the school could not re-award that aid, and it would continue to count against team limits.

The group floated the proposal several months ago, and membership opinion was deeply divided. Members are interested in finding out if opinions have changed in the past several months.