The NCAA made an announcement last week regarding rule changes and modifications. Most were in direct response to the little thing called COVID-19. You may have heard of it. Most of the announced rule changes resulted in standard rules being relaxed and waved for safety or practicality. While most are obviously positive, we still took the time to discuss them in this post.
One Transfer Rule to rule them all.
What was said: Adopt a “uniform, modernized rules governing eligibility after transfer for student-athletes in all sports” by January
What we think: This is the big one, but the one that doesn’t need to be resolved before sports resume like the rest of the changes and waivers. It may be the biggest long term decision to guide college athletics for the foreseeable future, meaning the NCAA has to get this right. Transfers are increasing by the year, and the transfer portal has streamlined the process a bit. However, the issue is that not all transfers have been deemed equal. Some players get approved to be immediately eligible, while others have to sit out a year, which was/is the current rule. The issue is the current rule doesn’t seem to apply to everyone anymore. Hardship waivers exist for a good reason, but those reasons have not been consistently approved. A recruit transferring to Illinois so his dying relative can see him play was not approved, and then the family member ending up passing away before he was allowed on the field. Then, a position coach leaves, or a player doesn’t win the starting spot, and they somehow are able to play right away. Consistency is essential for this rule to have a positive effect.
No fans, no problem.
What was said: Waiving the minimum football attendance requirement for Football Bowl Subdivision members for two years.
What we think: This is a no-brainer. Unfortunately, fans coming back will likely be the last thing to return to sports. Or at least fans in a packed stadium. Anyway, throwing attendance requirements out the window is a decision with safety and practicality in mind. Making is two years provides some flexibility as well.
The FCS gets a break.
What was said: Football Championship Subdivision teams will not be required to play at least 50% of football games against FBS or FCS opponents.
What we think: Have you ever seen the map of where FCS schools are located? Neither did we until this post. But yes, it’s going to be difficult for those out west to fulfill their requirements if they can’t travel. As will be discussed later below, the goal is to find a way to play games this year. This is a step in making that much easier to do.
The FBS gets a break... kind of.
What was said: In sports other than football, basketball, cross country, men’s swimming and diving, indoor and outdoor track and field, and wrestling, teams will not be required to play 50% of contests above the required minimum number of contests against Division I opponents. Those sports are still required to play 100 percent of the minimum number of contests against Division I opponents.
What we think: Many sports getting a break on D1 opponent requirements helps a lot in allowing schools to compete, even if the opposition isn’t at the same level it would typically be. Giving a break to baseball and softball will especially help the northern and western schools who spend large parts of the season traveling due to weather and lack of surrounding schools. Keeping things intact for football and basketball due to the superior level of competition makes sense. However, not extending the break to sports like cross-country, track and field, swimming and diving, and wrestling is a bit more puzzling.
Less aid, but required aid.
What was said: Financial aid minimums for FBS schools were waived to permit an institution to award at least 75% of the maximum FBS financial aid limit for three years. In addition, institutions will be permitted to award a minimum of 150 athletics grants-in-aid or expend a minimum of $3 million on grants-in-aid to student-athletes for a period of three years. Gender equity requirements and rules governing nonrenewal/cancellation of aid remain in effect.
What we think: Upholding gender equality requirements is non-negotiable, and it’s good the NCAA didn’t try to find any loopholes with this. The other part of this ruling is a bit tougher to swallow. Allowing schools to spend less than the minimum to still compete in Division 1 does not seem to be in the best interest of student-athletes. Especially considering it is waived for three years. That figures to have quite an impact on college athletics.
Just play the games.
What was said: FBS schools will not be required to play 60% of their games against FBS members or play five home games against FBS opponents.
What we think: Waving this helps immensely as far as getting games in this fall. If the season results in regional games or only being able to play a handful of teams, requirements about how often a team plays at home or what level of competition are around them. Independents (like BYU or New Mexico State) stand to benefit a great deal from this, as do D1 schools who don’t have other in-state FBS competition. Boise State and New Mexico come to mind off the top of my head.
Your turn: What are your thoughts on the NCAA rule changes from last week?