New Transfer Legislation and What It Means For NCAA Compliance

July 6th, 2018 | by Ross Mullet
New Transfer Legislation and What It Means For NCAA Compliance
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transfer legislation

The ability for a student-athlete to transfer and the rules and regulations the effect that action has been a hot topic in college athletics for a considerable time. For the first time in many years, there will be a major change to the transfer legislation which will take effect this upcoming October. The NCAA will be moving from a permission to contact system to a notification of intent to transfer system, which gives student-athletes more freedom to decide to which team they will transfer.

While the system will be implemented this fall, only a few months away, institutions and compliance officials are working to clarify the new process and how to best resolve unanswered questions in the new policy. For example, the biggest unanswered question is what the new process means for financial aid, and when financial aid can or cannot be canceled following a notification of intent to transfer.

Prior to this rule change, a student-athlete was required to get written permission to contact other institutions from their coach and institution. Without permission to contact, a student-athlete was ineligible to speak to other coaches, nor could they receive financial aid at another school until they had been a student there for one academic year. This could lead to student-athletes being unable to transfer to their preferred institution because of the financial aid block. Without the ability to receive financial aid, many student-athletes could not afford to transfer.

However, with the new transfer legislation, there is no longer a requirement for written permission to contact. Instead, student-athletes notify their coach and institution of their intent to transfer. Once the notice is given, they are free to be contacted by other universities about their interest in transferring to continue their athletic and academic career. Schools can no longer decide where a student-athlete cannot transfer by blocking permission to contact and thereby blocking the receipt of financial aid.

In addition, the NCAA has increased the severity of tampering violations. A coach speaking to a student-athlete who has not given notice of their intent to transfer will now be considered a Level 2 violation, which comes with more severe penalties than when a coach previously contacted a student-athlete who did not have a permission to contact. In spite of the NCAA changes and penalties, conferences still maintain their own transfer procedures and can still block or add requirements to transfers occurring within the conference.

Despite the clarity of the new tampering penalties, there are still unanswered questions regarding the new transfer legislation. One unanswered question is if there will soon be immediate eligibility for transfers in all sports. Or, conversely, whether student-athletes in all sports will be required to sit a year before being eligible for competition. Currently, a transfer in the sport of football, basketball, and baseball has to sit out a season of competition before being eligible to compete at the new institution. If that rule changes, it could have just as big of an effect on college athletics as the new transfer legislation does.

Likewise, there are still unanswered questions about what that the new legislation means for the student-athletes financial aid at their current institution. At what point can the institution cancel the student-athlete’s financial aid, once they give notice, or a set date after the notice is given? Coaches need the flexibility to be able to cancel aid and recruit  new student-athletes at some point during the notice process. Without the ability to cancel financial aid, a coach may be unable to replace an out-going student-athlete in a timely manner.

Student-athletes being able to give notice and no longer being required to get permission to contact give student-athletes more freedom to transfer between institutions. It is the first step, in what is expected to be many steps, in loosening the transfer rules to allow more freedom of movement for student-athletes. However, with this change, there are still important unanswered questions the NCAA, institutions, and compliance professionals need to resolve.

Ross Mullet About Ross Mullet
Ross Mullet is a compliance professional at the University of Mississippi and a life-long sports fan. He has previously worked at Southeastern Louisiana University and the University of South Carolina. Prior to joining the compliance profession, he earned a History degree from the University of Mississippi and a law degree from the University of South Carolina. He hopes that by sharing his experiences, he can help other young compliance professionals.

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