NCAA Transfer Reform Talks Still Ongoing, Still Hopeful
Thursday’s transfer talks leave some uncertainty but we may know more next month.
Forward progress on any conclusive transfer legislation may be a ways off, but many involved seem in favor.
We are still knee-deep in an unprecedented time not only in sports but a little bit of everywhere globally at the moment. With this pause in competition, some organizations and governing bodies have taken the time to pause, take a step back, and reflect. Among other pieces of reform currently underway by the NCAA, something of particular interest has been ongoing talks around a one-time waiver for players transferring for the first time in their career in five NCAA sponsored sports, football, men’s and women’s basketball, baseball, and hockey.
Those five sports mentioned above are the only sports sponsored by the NCAA that still require athletes to take a redshirt year at their new school or obtain a waiver if they decide to pick up and move on for a change of scenery. All others already allow players to suit up right away at their new destination, they call it a one-time exemption.
The infamous and mysteriously obtained transfer waiver, allows players to play immediately at their new school, but very few cases are ever publicly explained. Now, I see the privacy involved in this process and I’m not asking for every player’s tough situation to be placed somewhere for all to view, critique and bash, that’s not by any means a solution. But it makes criticism of the NCAA’s process and decision making way too easy for folks, as some players are awarded waivers and others aren’t far too often, it obviously begs the question, “why them and not me?”.
An example close to home for Mountain West fans was Boise State guard Emmanuel Akot, who transferred out of the Arizona Wildcat’s basketball program along with guard Alex Barcello. Both applied for a waiver in what seemed like an offseason where everyone was getting them approved, Barcello was granted one and suited up for BYU at the beginning of the season, no wait time or waiting until semester break. Akot was denied and then denied again following an appeal.
Players transferring has been a topic of debate for media members, coaches and the NCAA itself for the last couple of years now as the practice is reaching record numbers year in and year out, only to be broken the following season. Verbal Commits currently has the current total of players in the transfer portal at 852, with around 200 of those being graduate transfers. The controversy comes with how the NCAA handles the issuing of waivers to transfers for various reasons. If you want to get a little more heated at the NCAA, then read this article detailing the plight of current Virginia Tech offensive lineman Brock Hoffman and his own well-publicized experience with the NCAA.
Hoffman’s situation is tough because by definition his family’s predicament appears to be what the hardship waiver was created for, right? Instead, he was denied immediate eligibility because of a rule added by the NCAA in 2012 that states the new school a player wishes to transfer to must be within a 100-mile radius of their home. This along with an additional ruling stating his ailing mother’s condition was on the rise, so his previous plea regarding her failing health wasn’t as credible in his appeal, terrible right?
There seem to be too many parties with conflicting interests working on this issue at the moment. The Transfer Waiver Working Group, a body of folks close to the situation appointed by the NCAA to figure this problem out, has recommended waiver guidelines be updated to fit the current climate and a possible ever-mounting workload. While the NCAA’s board of Directors has suggested that opening transfer legislation up is fine, but disagreed with the proposed changes to the waiver process as of Thursday calling it “not appropriate at this time”.
But the vote will ultimately be decided by the Division 1 Council, which is a body of representatives designed to encompass all aspects of college athletics. For example, the Mountain West is represented by Fresno State professor Dr. Dawn Lewis, a professor and faculty athletics representative while other conferences are represented by athletic directors, commissioners, senior woman administrators, conference administrators, compliance administrators and even two student-athletes.
This is tough news as the hopes of many were to have a plan in place to implement these new changes in time for the 2020-2021 season. If the council were to vote in favor of the proposed changes, it would do so on May 20th at their next scheduled meeting or at the latest January of next year.