The NCAA is making some changes in, it says, an attempt to clarify the transfer waiver process.
The sanctioning body didn’t change any transfer rules on Wednesday. But it added more guidelines — and, in some cases, more barriers — for immediate eligibility waivers in an attempt to make the process more consistent and look less arbitrary.
An NCAA transfer panel recently denied the waiver request by Illinois TE Luke Ford, who transferred from Georgia to be closer to his sick grandfather. The NCAA ruled that Ford’s request didn’t meet the criteria needed for immediate eligibility — even as quarterbacks like Justin Fields and Tate Martell have immediately transferred without issue — and Ford has to sit out the 2019 season.
One of Wednesday’s changes directly addresses illnesses and injuries to “immediate” family members. And while the NCAA’s guidelines are now more specific, they also look more stringent too.
In cases where a student-athlete transfers because of the recent injury or illness of an immediate family member, the new school must provide contemporaneous medical documentation from the treating physician showing how the family member is debilitated; an explanation of the student-athlete’s role in providing care; confirmation from both the athletics director and faculty athletics representative that the student-athlete will be allowed to depart the team to provide care; a statement from the previous school’s athletics director explaining why the student-athlete said he or she was transferring; and proof that the student-athlete is in good academic standing and meeting progress-toward degree at the new school. The transfer must occur within or immediately after the academic year after learning of the injury or illness, and the guideline requires the new school be within 100 miles of the immediate family member.
Previously in such cases, the new school had to provide written documentation from the family member’s treating professional; contemporaneous medical documentation showing how the family member was debilitated; an explanation of the student-athlete’s need to transfer; and confirmation from the athletics director and faculty athletics representative that the student-athlete would be allowed to depart the team in order to provide care for the family member.
Yes, you read that bolded part correctly. An athlete must now have a defined caretaking role — in addition to being a student and an athlete — to transfer closer to home for family reasons and be immediately eligible. It’s not enough for a player to transfer closer to home to be near a sick family member.
A player transferring because of his or her own injury or illness must have his or her former school “provide contemporaneous medical documentation from the student-athlete’s treating professional showing the student-athlete is debilitated and was receiving treatment before the transfer; an explanation of the student-athlete’s need to transfer and treatment plan; and a statement from the previous school’s athletics director explaining why the student-athlete indicated he or she was transferring.”
The new school must also be within 100 miles of the transferring player’s family.
Players must attend class to be subject to transfer rules
Another minor change to the transfer process comes in the aftermath of Bru McCoy’s flip and flop from USC to Texas and back to USC.
Previously, a player enrolled in classes and present on campus on the first day of class would be subject to the existing transfer process. Under the new change, a student has to also attend the first day of class to trigger the application of the transfer process.
Other changes made by the NCAA included adjustments to the way waivers are handled for players transferring because they no longer have an opportunity at their current school. That was part of the basis Martell used to transfer immediately to Miami after Fields transferred to Ohio State.
When a school requests a waiver because it asserts a student-athlete no longer has the opportunity to participate at his or her previous school, the new school must provide proof that the student-athlete is in good academic standing and meeting progress-toward-degree requirements at the new school and a statement from the previous school’s athletics director indicating whether the student could return to the team; whether the student was dismissed from the team and the date of dismissal; whether the student was in good academic standing at the time of departure; and the reasons the student gave the previous school for the transfer.
Previously in such cases, the new school had to provide confirmation the student couldn’t return to the team for reasons outside his or her control; a statement from an academic authority indicating the student-athlete was in good academic standing and met progress-toward-degree requirements; and a statement from the previous school detailing its position on the request.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports
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