A Wednesday meeting of the NCAA Division I Council did not result in a vote on a proposal that would give immediate eligibility to college athletes transferring for the first time.
Instead, the council resolved to adopt a “comprehensive legislative package creating uniform, modernized rules governing eligibility after transfer for student-athletes in all sports” by January 2021, a statement from the NCAA said.
The proposal was to adjust transfer waiver rules to allow athletes in five sports to change schools without sitting out a required year if it was the first time the athlete was transferring from one four-year college to another.
A working group recommended in February the change for first-time transfers via the waiver process, before the new coronavirus pandemic halted sports in mid-March and resulted in the cancellation of NCAA spring sports competition. On April 30, the NCAA Board of Directors, comprised of school presidents, recommended to the Council that it not pass the change to waiver rules.
Athletes in most sports at four-year schools can transfer without having to sit out a year. But in five sports — men’s and women’s basketball, baseball, men’s ice hockey and football (except for FBS to FCS dropdowns) — a sit-out year called an “academic year of residence” is required before an athlete is eligible to compete.
Allowing such athletes to become immediate eligible upon their first transfer was expected to ease a logjam of requests to waive the sit-out requirement under certain outlined circumstances. Existing waiver circumstances that currently result in immediate eligibility include a coach removing the opportunity to compete, egregious behavior by a coach or a teammate, injury or illness to the athlete or close family member, or financial hardship.
According to the NCAA’s statement, it still aims to resolve the waiver request logjam through legislation. The council’s resolution called the waiver process “an unsustainable method to achieve lasting stability, consistency and transparency within the transfer environment” and said it was “never designed to accommodate sustained requests for relief from a rule without actually changing the rule.”
Instead of addressing the issue through waiver rules, legislation will now be crafted for approval in January in an effort to create “a uniform and equitable approach to transfer rules” in a “comprehensive package designed to address the multiple complexities involved,” said Penn athletic director M. Grace Calhoun, the council’s chair, in the NCAA’s statement Wednesday.
As such, Weber State men’s basketball will need to obtain waivers for sophomore signees Darweshi Hunter (transfer from Division II Central State) and Seikou Sisoho Jawara (transfer from Loyola Marymount) if they are to be eligible in the 2020-21 season.
Due to the circumstances of their transfers, head coach Randy Rahe told the Standard-Examiner he expects to successfully obtain waivers for both.
The NCAA says the forthcoming comprehensive transfer legislation will address academic requirements, roster management considerations, transfer notification dates, accountability measures for schools that accept transfer students, and additional education on the transfer rules and process