NCAA considering changing transfer rules to allow athletes to play right away

AP Photo/Jim Litke

(WTNH)–The NCAA is looking into changing its policy on transfers, including a longstanding rule that has forced players to sit out a year before playing for another school.

A new proposal would allow undergraduate students to become immediately eligible to play at other schools, if they meet certain academic standards.

The NCAA announced earlier this week that it is seeking feedback from members about that rule and others, including how athletes receive permission to contact other schools.

Under a recent rule change, the only athletes eligible to transfer and play immediately are prospective graduate students who want to continue their studies (a.k.a. play) at a different school, provided the school offers a different program than their current school does.

Players who haven’t used up a fourth year of eligibility have taken advantage of that rule, including former UConn men’s basketball players Lasan Kromah and Sterling Gibbs.

Most other athletes are forced to sit out a year, unless granted a special hardship waiver by the NCAA. Coaches even have the power to block them from transferring to other schools that the coaches can choose (i.e. competitors). Historically, coaches have blocked athletes from transferring to schools in their own conference.

The NCAA is considering changing its “permission to contact” rules, which would allow athletes to contact other schools without first receiving permission from their own school. Currently, if an athlete doesn’t receive permission, they aren’t allowed to be on scholarship for their first year at their new school.

A new proposal would eliminate financial aid being tied in with permission to contact rules.

The NCAA will reach out to school presidents, faculty, coaches and athletic directors through a survey. The deadline to respond is September 22.

Some college basketball coaches don’t seem to be keen on the potential changes to the transfer rule.

“It would be the worst rule ever,” Baylor men’s basketball coach Scott Drew told ESPN.com’s Myron Medcalf. “It would be the wild, Wild West. Coaches don’t agree on everything. On this, I think we’d be unanimous.”

Purdue head coach Matt Painter agreed.

“I would not be in favor,” he told ESPN. “It would not allow players to develop and grow as people and players. Any adversity would lead to a transfer and it would just retard their development.”

ESPN’s Jay Bilas, long an advocate for athletes and a critic of the NCAA, couldn’t disagree more.

“Any athlete should be allowed to transfer at any time and accept all allowable aid from any school that will have him or her,” he wrote on ESPN.com. “This isn’t difficult. If this is really about unpaid, amateur students being treated like any other students, then the transfer policy is simple.”

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