26th January 2018
On January 17, 2018, an NCAA committee voted to prolong a potential vote on whether to change the Division I transfer rule. Under the “academic year in residence” rule, a transfer student must spend an academic year in residence at the school to which they are transferring. This means that players who want to transfer have to wait one year before they can start playing at their new university. As we have previously covered, this rule has been subject of several lawsuits, and currently the Seventh Circuit is deciding whether to overturn the dismissal of an antitrust claim brought by a class of players, led by former punter, Peter Deppe.
The possibility of changing the rule has been the subject of an ongoing debate within the NCAA. After it was announced that the directors voted to prolong the vote in order for the directors to have more time to consider transfer proposals, rumors began to swirl about the possibilities currently on the table. Jon Rothstein, from FanRag Sports’ reported that while “nothing is official,” that the NCAA was considering letting players with a minimum 2.7 or 2.8 grade-point average transfer without having to sit out. An NCAA spokeswoman, Michelle Brutlag Hosick, said the report was “premature” and “[t]he Transfer Working Group does not have academic benchmarks, effective dates or any of the other details of a possible uniform transfer rule worked out yet.”
Advocates of the rule change argue that it gives unpaid college athletes a measure of freedom. It would allow player who feel they are not getting what they signed up for a way out. While opponents of the rule change argue that players will run once they are faced with even a hint of adversity, and there will be consistent frenzy of transferring students, which would give players power over their coaches and universities. However, if the NCAA is forced to pay college athletes, then the rule will once again have to be revisited.