SEC changes rule, allows immediate eligibility for transfers within conference

The Southeastern Conference will now allow players who transfer within the conference to have immediate eligibility at their new school.

The league’s presidents and chancellors voted on the measure Thursday, overturning a longstanding rule that required intraconference transfers to sit out for a year before returning to action.

The change takes effect immediately and will align with new NCAA policy that allows first-time transfers in baseball, football, men’s and women’s basketball and men’s ice hockey to play right away. Other conferences like the ACC, Big East, Big 12 and Pac-12 made the same change in recent months as college athletics trends toward increased freedom of movement for its athletes.

"This is an important measure to further support student-athletes throughout the Southeastern Conference," SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said. "While maintaining the expectation that coaches and others avoid improper recruiting, this change will ensure that student-athletes who enroll at an SEC member institution will enjoy the flexibility afforded to other student-athletes across the nation.”

There is one difference in the SEC’s rule compared to the NCAA’s one-time transfer rule. To transfer within the SEC and be eligible immediately, fall sport athletes must “declare his or her intent to transfer” by Feb. 1. For winter sports, the deadline is May 1. For spring sports, it’s July 1. The NCAA set a May 1 deadline for fall sport athletes.

"The SEC has established a deadline for declaring an intention to transfer in fall sports as February 1 in order to create time windows that are more consistent across fall, winter and spring sports," Sankey said.

From a football perspective, the news puts players like Arik Gilbert and Henry To’o To’o on the field with their new schools next season. Gilbert, a former five-star tight end who began his career at LSU, recently announced his commitment to Georgia. To’o To’o was a star linebacker at Tennessee who is moving on to Alabama.

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 07:  An 'SEC' logo is seen on an end zone pylon before the Missouri Tigers take on the Auburn Tigers during the SEC Championship Game at Georgia Dome on December 7, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
The SEC will now allow players who transfer within the conference to have immediate eligibility at their new school. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

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