The ability for some undergraduate college athletes to be able to transfer without having to sit out a year is getting ever-so-closer to reality.
The NCAA’s Division I Committee on Academics has recommended a proposal to the group studying changes to current transfer rules that would allow players who are at a 3.0 (or above) GPA to transfer immediately.
Committee members agreed those benchmarks should include a GPA between 3.0 and 3.3 and a requirement that students be academically eligible for competition at the time of transfer, based on their progress toward earning a degree within five years of initial enrollment.
The group considered adjusting those requirements to put transfer students who want to compete immediately on a track to graduate in four years. But it ultimately opted to keep the rule the same for transfers and nontransfers. Current academic progress rules keep students on a track to graduate in five years.
Data show that, regardless of their sport, transfers with GPAs below 3.0 are most at risk for taking longer to graduate — or not graduating at all.
The NCAA will likely make a move to loosen its archaic and needlessly restrictive transfer rules sometime in the near future. It’s not going to take the step of allowing every player the ability to transfer and play at his or her school immediately, so academic benchmarks have been a common way to give players a standard to shoot for when transferring. Other proposals have included provisions that allow players to transfer immediately if a coach is fired or leaves for another job.
Academic benchmarks make sense in the context of the NCAA’s continued efforts to brand college athletes as “student-athletes” and the insistence that they’re students first. But they don’t really make sense when viewed in the prism of former UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen’s comments about balancing school and football and the academic fraud scandal at North Carolina.
It’s a pessimistic view, sure, but it’s easy to see how academic standards for transfer would push athletes to take the easiest classes possible to ensure a good GPA. No athlete goes to a school wanting to transfer, but it’s not hard to envision players making sure they’d be able to transfer immediately if things didn’t work out at their original school of choice.
According to the committee’s statement, the idea of differing academic benchmarks based on the player’s year in school was discussed before the committee settled on a standard benchmark GPA for all athletes that would want to transfer.
The committee’s proposal was made to the DI Transfer Working Group, which will consider all transfer proposals and then make a recommendation to the Division I Council for a potential vote in June.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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