Michelle Brutlag Hosick
INDIANAPOLIS – The Division I Council granted a blanket waiver allowing all transfer student-athletes to compete immediately this season if specific criteria are met.
In order to be eligible for the waiver, the transfer student-athletes must meet the following conditions:
The waiver applies only to students who transferred from another Division I school, not transfers from other NCAA divisions or schools outside the NCAA. The regular transfer waiver process is available to non-Division I transfer student-athletes.
“The Council continued its trend of voting in favor of maximum flexibility for student-athletes during the pandemic,” said Council chair M. Grace Calhoun, athletics director at Pennsylvania. “Allowing transfer student-athletes to compete immediately will provide additional opportunities to student-athletes during this continued difficult time, and perhaps allow games to be played that otherwise might not have been.”
Applicable to all sports, the waiver was initially proposed by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association and was supported by the Men’s and Women’s Basketball Oversight Committees, the Student-Athlete Experience Committee and the National Association of Basketball Coaches. Providing immediate eligibility for these students could help teams if their rosters are impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Student-athletes also supported the waiver.
“We are thrilled at the passing of the blanket waiver as we believe it is in line with DI SAAC in ensuring that all of our student-athletes have the best opportunity to thrive both academically and athletically,” said Council member Caroline Lee, former soccer student-athlete at Southeastern Louisiana. “In a time of great uncertainty amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, we feel it is in our best interest to grant immediate eligibility for those who have transferred in order to best support their mental health and well-being.”
Support among other groups impacted by the change was mixed. The Working Group on Transfers, which has proposed changing the base rule to allow student-athletes in all sports to compete immediately, supported the waiver and noted it was the same as the change the group had proposed to the waiver process in February.
The American Association of Baseball Coaches supported the waiver. The men’s ice hockey coaches did not support the proposal, noting the low number of transfers in the sport and their lack of support for changing the rule. Likewise, the Football Oversight Committee observed the change would come too late to affect most Football Bowl Subdivision schools. All other sports already can compete immediately after their first transfer, provided conditions are met.
The Council also modified the proposal it will vote on in January that would allow all student-athletes access to the one-time transfer exception. The modification specifies that midyear transfer student-athletes in sports that do not already have a midyear transfer restriction would not be subject to the notification of dates.