NCAA transfer rules continue to confound after Illinois TE's waiver isn't granted

Luke Ford wants to play in front of his sick grandfather in 2019. (Photo by Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Luke Ford wants to play in front of his sick grandfather in 2019. (Photo by Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Illinois is planning to appeal the NCAA’s decision to not grant tight end Luke Ford a transfer waiver.

Ford tweeted Wednesday that his appeal to play right away with the Illini had been denied.

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“We’re all disappointed Luke Ford’s waiver request for immediate eligibility was denied,” Illinois said in a statement. “There is an appeal process that we intend to help Luke explore.”

Ford is transferring to Illinois from Georgia, where he had one catch in 2018. The transfer, however, is not about playing time. He wants to be closer to his sick grandfather. Yet that was apparently not enough of a reason for the NCAA to grant his transfer request.

"He's leaving the Taj Mahal of facilities [at Georgia] just so his grandpa gets a chance to see him play in person, before it's too late," his father Tim Ford told ESPN.

NCAA more lenient, but still inconsistent with transfers

Ford’s former Georgia teammate Justin Fields had no issue in getting a waiver to be immediately eligible at Ohio State. And former Buckeye QB Tate Martell is immediately eligible at Miami. He transferred after Fields’ arrival and his lawyer cited Ohio State’s lack of effort in wanting to keep him on the team in its plea for immediate eligibility.

Their waiver requests getting granted made sense within the NCAA’s newly loosened transfer structure where immediate eligibility can be granted in situations involving “mitigating circumstances.”

That loosening needed to happen. Yet it hasn’t happened enough, apparently.

It doesn’t make much sense that Martell was granted immediate eligibility for football-related reasons while Ford and Virginia Tech offensive lineman Brock Hoffman were not when they cited being closer to family members in their waiver reasoning. While the NCAA does clearly note it doesn’t grant every transfer waiver that is filed, some common sense needs to be applied without the need of lawyers and appeals.

Hopefully that widespread use of common sense happens sooner rather than later. Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente certainly hopes so.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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