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Peak Perspective: Impending Transfer Rules

The NCAA will soon decide and implement transfer rules. What should they be?

The NCAA announced some rule changes related to Covid-19 back in May. They pushed the vote back and it was scheduled for this week, but is has once again been pushed back. Regardless, MWCConnection looks at what some of these changes should look like once decisions are made.

Enter in transfer portal

The transfer portal has been around, and it should stay around. It hasn’t led to a mass free agency, as some feared. Yes, players are transferring at a higher rate than ever, but that would happen with or without the portal.

The portal allows a player to announce his intentions, and schools can contact players in the portal. A player can also remove their name from the portal at any time, as entering the portal does not necessarily mean the player is leaving. It’s not harming the player, and as much as can be controlled, it ensures other schools can’t contact a player until they wish to be contacted. If there’s a better way to do this, I can’t think of it. Keep the transfer portal going. Sign it to an extension with a raise, whatever.

One time transfer without sitting out a year.

This is the most likely outcome from the new transfer rule, no matter what else happens. For many players, this is already a reality. That it isn’t the reality for all players in the issue.

It all boils down to the same discussions happening on the internet for years. Purists say players shouldn’t leave just because they are unhappy about playing time. And the grass certainly isn’t always greener. There are more D1 players in the transfer portal than spots available for them. However, if coaches can leave whenever they want, and non-athletes can transfer with no penalty, why can’t student-athletes? If they truly are amateurs and students, why can’t they have the same rules that other students do? If they can’t because they need to fulfill some kind of duty to a team they signed up for, then why are they being paid as such?

Players are going to transfer; it’s the world we live in. On a case by case basis, we as fans don’t have to agree with every transfer. And just because a transfer doesn’t work out for the player doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have the right to do so. Sure, some education for players wishing to transfer should probably happen, sharing both positive and negative outcomes. The success stories and the disappointing ones. The stories or statistics about where players end up or don’t end up. But that needs to not come from schools, the ones who don’t want them to leave the program.

A one-time transfer where players are immediately eligible makes the most sense for the current landscape. Consistency is essential, and this allows for the most consistent way to enable the best for the athletes (which should always be the goal). On a related note...

End hardship waiver.

It’s inconsistent, usually ignores real hardships, and has become a joke for high-profiles quarterbacks who want to leave after losing out on the starting job.

This is mainly being used now to get immediate eligibility for players. Since that is covered in the above section, is it serving a purpose anymore? Again, the results of this often come down to who can afford the best lawyers or how big your name is in the college football world. What’s worse, actual hardships have been denied.

Luke Ford is the face of this issue, unfortunately. He transferred from Georgie to Illinois to player closer to his grandfather, who was terminally ill. The waver was denied, because Illinois was 193 miles from Ford’s home, outside of the 100-mile radius that the NCAA requires. Sadly, Ford’s grandfather passed away before he could see Luke play, thanks to this decision.

Not every player lives within 100 miles of a D1 school which sponsors a sport they happen to play, so that’s ridiculous. Secondly, it’s an arbitrary number anyway. It isn’t consistent, and if players can get hardship waivers for coaches leaving or not winning the starting position, but not for actual issues.

Be done with it.

No longer count against the 25 person scholarship limit/Have a separate transfer limit.

Keep the grad transfer rule.

This is one of the few things the NCAA has done right in recent years. There was some talk about getting rid of it in the past year or two, and it’s confusing as to why.

It rewards players for taking care of business in the classroom and getting their degree on time or early. I’d be interested to know how many of them actually complete their master’s degree. But even if they don’t, they have the freedom to seek out another opportunity if they choose to.

Now with this rule still existing alongside the one-time transfer rule, a player can, in theory, play for three different schools in their college career. That sometimes occurs even now, but doesn’t happen at a high frequency and likely won’t going forward. Players who use the graduate transfer rule often want to find a place to get on the field for their last year of eligibility. The Russell Wilson and Vernon Adams examples are not as common, and even so, they were both beneficial for the player and college football in general.

Again, this rule is an excellent combination of focus on academics and allowing the student-athlete freedom to explore another option after completing their degree. What is there not to like about this rule?

If tampering does occur.

It’s very likely that it is already occurring. It’s just as likely that it will continue to occur at whatever rate it currently is. In the digital and social media age, it’s hard to discover and police. However, for programs that are dumb enough to get caught, make the penalties severe, no more slaps on the wrist, or come down on certain teams more than other teams.

It’s pretty simple, actually. If a school is caught tampering as a first time offender, that school will not be allowed to receive any transfers for two years. For a second offense, that ban increases to four years. If there is a third offense, then they can no longer take transfer athletes. If teams are dumb enough not to learn their lesson by then, they don’t deserve to benefit.

For the purposes of this article, tampering is defined as schools having contact with any player affiliated with another team before they enter the transfer portal. How would this be policed? No clue. If teams are dumb enough to get caught doing this, they should have to pay the price.

Five years of eligibility for everyone.

This is a bonus rule that doesn’t directly relate to transfer rules, but it could aid the process a bit.

Let every player have five years of eligibility. This is building off of the redshirt rule change from two years ago. All players can see the field for five years. Likely, not much will change from the current landscape, but any changes will only be positive.

The truly elite players will still go pro after four or five years.

The good players will still find the field in their first year, either in a feature role right away, or a handful of games on special teams or when they move up the depth chart due to an injury. The players who need more seasoning will still be getting more seasoning initially, with the potential to be thrown in a game or two during blowouts to get some experience.

Maybe nothing looks different from players retaining a redshirt playing in four or fewer games. Perhaps a few players are good enough to play in five or six games or need to be used the last five or so games of the year due to improvement or injuries forcing the matter.

The pre-transfer for recruits.

Yet another bonus rule that can be added on in this rule change. Add an addendum to recruiting practices where if either the head coach of their position coach leaves (not fired, but leaves) for another school after the first signing period, the signed recruit can be released and sign with another team during the second signing period.

This is in the best interest of the recruit. They haven’t joined the team yet, so it doesn’t count as their one-time transfer. Naysayers may say they agreed and signed a binding contract. That is true, but the circumstances of the contract changed if a coach ends up leaving. Add it into the letters of intent and protect the player from entering a situation they are no longer comfortable with. It would be interesting to see how many recruits would take advantage of this given the opportunity.