NCAA could eliminate hardship waivers in transfer process

By Matt Norlander | College Basketball Writer

The NCAA's Leadership Council is making waves this week. The biggest headline from its annual meeting was the elimination on all food limits for players.

Next up? An alteration in transfer guidelines.

This isn't a massive revision, but rather a tweak coaches have lobbied for in the past couple of years. And the rule change is not official yet. The amendment to current transfer rules has to do with hardship waivers and an ensuing sixth year of eligibility. The NCAA announced on Friday that hardship waivers -- something players now apply for with regularity upon transferring from one place to another; it's cynically considered more and more of a loophole -- should instead be swapped for one more year of eligibility.

For example, this would mean that a player leaving one school for another in the name of being closer to home for family/health reasons would simply have an extra year to play college basketball. But the player would sit a redshirt year first. This proposal would be for all sports where applicable at the D-I level.

“We hope this change will encourage student-athletes who must transfer based on hardships to focus on the circumstances prompting the transfer during their first year and adjust to their new school, while giving them a season back to complete their eligibility,” Council chairperson Amy Huchthausen said in the NCAA's statement.

It goes back to the integrity of the transfer. In college basketball plenty of coaches (and plenty have told me this off the record) have bent the spirit of the hardship waiver to its limits, often earning immediate eligibility from a player under embellished personal circumstances. Now the NCAA is saying that all players seeking transfer under these circumstances should focus on school and the personal matter in their first year before getting back on the court.

This would also inherently eliminate the number of waivers. That process in general takes up a lot of the NCAA's time and, with regularity, leads to controversy because waiver clearances/denials can be so inconsistent with which players get which verdicts.

This proposal from the Council will go to vote next Thursday at the Board of Directors meeting, just as the unlimited-food item will. Per the NCAA, if it passes there then it goes into place at the start of the 2015-16 academic year.

"The recommendation does not include graduate students, and subcommittee members noted that more work on transfer issues should be completed in a new governance structure," per the release.

 
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