Rules for transfers could face some big change, big controversy

By Matt Norlander | College Basketball Writer

Are you unsatisfied with the state of the college basketball transfer system? If so, you're in the majority. It's not a perfect system, and pretty much everyone affiliated with it is aware and trying to create something that better suits the current climate of collegiate athletics.

Change is almost definitely coming, but in what form? To know its catalyst, we look to the Division I Leadership Council, a group of athletic directors, mainly. (That may or may not comfort your confidence in a possible redesign.) The Council's made it known already: They want to make it easier on athletes who were looking to hop from one school to another. Or, wanted to. This was a year ago, last January. But, as John Infante writes at the Bylaw Blog, the plans for altering these trasnfer rules were adjusted "significantly" three months later, in April.

Those alleviations aren't so much a necessary topic these days. So instead of all transfer-related issues, the Leadership Council moved on to tweaking the ever-notorious permission-to-contact protocol. Basically, when a player wants to leave a school, the school/athletic director/coach has to sign off on it. And there are often caveats. Sometimes it's conferences that explicitly forbid a player from transferring in-league.

(That's what the ACC has now, and why former Louisville forward Chane Behanan will not have a future in that league, should he opt to continue playing college basketball. Update: Due to the fact Behanan played for Louisville in the American this year, he will not be blocked from transferring to the ACC.)

So fast forward to last October, when the Leadership Council proposed all college basketball players sit a year, no matter what, following a transfer. All or nothing, basically. This also applied within the second point of emphasis, regarding graduate transfers -- players in a fifth year, essentially -- to also sit after opting to switch schools.

Here is how this might work in a couple of scenarios:
A basketball player who qualifies for a waiver transfers after using his redshirt year: would receive a clock extension.
A basketball player who graduated in four years and and transfers after using her redshirt year: would receive a clock extension.
Immediately eligibility would still be available for transfer waivers, but only in “extremely limited circumstances." The Leadership Council report has no indication what those circumstances might be.
...
On the other hand, changes to the transfer waiver guidelines may not require changes to the Division I Manual, meaning they could be implemented very quickly.

In essence: The rules on waivers could be put into effect in time for the fall. We don't know how likely all of this is. But it's in discussion, and has been, for a year now. That alone gives it creedence worth discussing. College football, men's hockey and baseball players would also qualify for the changes, if they're voted in. Those are the major NCAA-sanctioned sports that don't have the one-time transfer exception.

It's worth noting how many really like the grad-transfer rule, due in part to the nature of what it does: allow student-athletes to get a second degree. You can argue against the competitive nature of what happens at the college basketball level, or call it quasi-free agency, but at a minimum these are 21- and 22-year-olds who have earned an undergrad degree (presumably on the up-and-up, in most cases) and are looking for one more year of school in order to achieve.

That's not a bad thing, and if it goes away, you can see why a backlash would be right behind.

 
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