NCAA expected to adjust guidelines allowing transfers immediate eligibility, report says
The number of waiver requests in the past year has become an issue for the NCAA
When it comes to progress, the NCAA is usually one to take one step forward, two steps (at least) back. Such is the case with its transfer guidelines, which in the past year have resulted in numerous waivers applying for immediate eligibility -- with many of them being granted.
According to Dan Wolken of USA Today Sports, the NCAA's council is "expected to approve a package of new guidelines that could make it more difficult for college football and basketball players who transfer to receive immediate eligibility via waivers." Namely, college athletics' governing body is apparently adjusting its guidelines to require athletes to have "documented extenuating, extraordinary and mitigating circumstances outside of the student-athlete's control that directly impacts the health, safety or well-being of the student-athlete."
The language isn't terribly different overall from last year's policy, but the words "extenuating" and "extraordinary" tightens up the potential for immediate eligibility via waiver from the Committee on Legislative Relief. It might be semantics, but the guidelines are far less broad than they were. Additionally, Wolken writes:
In cases where an athlete was run off by a coach or essentially had their scholarship pulled for non-disciplinary reasons, the NCAA will require a written statement from the athletics director at the previous school stating whether the athlete would not have had an opportunity to return to the team. The committee is being instructed to deny cases where the athlete can't document that they've been run off.
The previous guidelines allowed waivers to be granted for "egregious behavior by a staff member or student at the previous institution" as long as the previous school did not oppose the waiver, giving the committee a fairly broad window to view those claims. The updated version says waivers should be granted for documented cases where the athlete was a victim of "physical assault or abuse, sexually inappropriate behavior, racial abuse, religious discrimination, questioning of sexuality by a staff member or student at the previous institution" though the definition isn't limited to those areas.
However, as noted by Michael Felder, a former Division I player himself, this type of additional documentation doesn't necessarily inherently benefit the player.
All of this is typical NCAA red tape, and it shouldn't come as much of a surprise. Yes, there was a sudden increase in high-profile waiver requests based on the new policy -- Justin Fields and Tate Martell chief among them -- creating a larger situation than the NCAA's members could (or, at least wanted to) handle. But this is also a reminder that, when push comes to shove, the NCAA's membership will create more work for itself in the name of making sure it maintains a level of control of its athletes. The transfer portal and eligibility waivers were two major complaints among coaches this year, and rest assured that those coaches made their concerns known to their athletic directors, who in turn made them known to their presidents and chancellors, who make up the NCAA's membership.
The result is the NCAA trying to walk back its policy by adding more parameters to it when, really, the best thing for it would be to do away with waivers altogether and establish a more streamlined form of eligibility.
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