Impact of Potential Changes to NCAA DI Transfer Rules

Following last week’s DI Council and committee meetings, a serious development that has been circulated within athletic departments relates to the potential updates to the NCAA transfer rules. At last glance, the DI Council appointed transfer issues working group recommended that two legislative proposals be added to the 2017-18 council governance legislative cycle, with other concepts being studied for future legislative cycles. Let’s take a look at the two concepts being forwarded to the governance cycle in 2017-18.

Concept # 1 – Eliminate the Permission to Contact Rule and Replace with a Notification Model

The transfer issue working group’s own “repeal and replace” concept. This proposal, if adopted, would (1) eliminate the current permission to contact rule, in which student-athletes must receive permission from their current institution to speak with other schools about a potential transfer prior to the communication occurring, with an appeals system should permission be denied, and (2) implement a notification system that would require a student-athlete to disclose/notify his/her current institution of their desire to speak with other institutions before any communication occurs.

Impact:

  • Institutions would lose their current authority over student-athlete’s ability to communicate with other schools about a transfer.
    • A by-product of this change is that a student-athlete will not be precluded from receiving athletics aid should they decide to transfer to another institution. Under the current model, an institution can deny a student-athlete permission to contact another institution and, should that student-athlete decide to transfer to that institution, he/she is ineligible to receive athletics aid during their first year of enrollment at that school.
  • Student-athletes would no longer need to request permission to contact other schools, instead being able to disclose that desire before the communication happens.
    • The NCAA would likely create and manage a database where all institutions could view student-athlete transfer statuses and then communicate with those student-athletes accordingly.
    • Student-athletes could, conceivably, provide this notification of desire to discuss transfer with other schools at any time of year, at least until aid renewal letters are sent on July 1.
    • Roster management may be a bit more difficult but, conceivably, admissions deadlines for transfers would balance any concern that late-season roster management will become the norm.

Unanswered Questions:

  • Will student-athletes be limited to providing notification of their intent to discuss a transfer? In other words, is there a certain date that the NCAA deems too late to discuss transferring without additional restrictions?
    • Again, likely not, as there are current NCAA rules as well as deadlines on campus that will dictate whether a student-athlete could conceivably transfer for an upcoming academic year.
  • Will institutions have any protections should a student-athlete decide to provide notice that they wish to discuss a potential transfer with another school? Specifically, if a student-athlete has signed a multi-year aid agreement with the first institution, would the institution be able to non-renew a student-athlete if the notification is not provided by a certain date?

 

Concept # 2 – Enhancing a tampering penalty to a Level II Violation

In conjunction with the notification of transfer model, the transfer issues working group is proposing that the level of severity for tampering with four-year prospects be enhanced to a Level II violation.

Impact:

  • To ensure that the new notification model is complied with, any finding of tampering will automatically be treated as a Level II violation, with institutions having an opportunity to provide mitigation to decrease the level of severity or, alternatively, the NCAA increasing the level of severity due to the seriousness of the involved tampering.
  • This may put a chilling effect on all attempts by coaches at other institutions to engage in recruiting conversations/correspondence with four-year prospects before they disclose their desire to transfer.

Unanswered Questions:

  • Will tampering also apply to student-athletes from other institutions (i.e., text, calls, social media activity that is recruiting-based)?