NCAA rule change means athletes no longer need permission to transfer

UNC’s Johnson: ‘I am really excited to put on these colors’

North Carolina's Cameron Johnson talks about transferring to the Tar Heels and what he can bring to the UNC basketball team during media day at the Smith Center in Chapel Hill, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017.
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North Carolina's Cameron Johnson talks about transferring to the Tar Heels and what he can bring to the UNC basketball team during media day at the Smith Center in Chapel Hill, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017.

Division I college athletes seeking to transfer have an easier path to their new school, the NCAA announced on Wednesday.

The NCAA also announced a new rule that allows football players who play in up to four games to still have the option of redshirting.

A new transfer rule, which goes into effect Oct. 15, removes the previous requirement that athletes must seek permission from their current schools before letting other schools know they’d like to transfer.

The NCAA’s Division I Council approved the new rule this week. The NCAA’s Transfer Working Group first proposed this rule change last year.

“The membership showed today that it supports this significant change in transfer rules,” Justin Sell, chair of the Division I Transfer Working Group and athletics director at South Dakota State, said in a statement released by the NCAA. “I’m proud of the effort the Transfer Working Group put forth to make this happen for student-athletes, coaches and schools.”

Though the national rule is changing, individual conferences still have the right to implement more restrictive transfer rules.

Like other Power Five conferences, the ACC has extra restrictions on athletes who transfer within the conference. A player who moves from one ACC school to another must sit out one season and will lose a season of eligibility.

The national transfer working group’s discussions have also included removing or altering the current rule that forces athletes to sit out a year without competing at their new school. While those discussions continue, that rule has yet to be changed.

The outgoing rule that required athletes to get permission before transferring was intended to prevent schools from recruiting athletes from other schools. As part of the rule change approved this week, tampering with a current student-athlete at another school is now a potential Level 2 violation which could bring penalties from the NCAA’s Infractions Committee.

Under the new guidelines, athletes will simply notify their current school of their desire to transfer. Within two days, the school must enter the athlete’s name into a national transfer database. Once an athlete’s name is in the database, other school are free to make contact.

Former Coastal Carolina football player Nick Clark, who represents the Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee on the Division I Council, likes the transparency of the new rule.

“This creates a safe place for student-athletes to have a conversation with their coaches and makes the whole process more transparent,” Clark said in an NCAA statement. “This will clean the process up and give more influence and flexibility to the student-athlete.”

The rule allowing football players to take a redshirt season even if they participated in four games goes into effect this season.

Previously, a player would be ineligible to redshirt if they played as little as one play in one game. Now, coaches will be able to use a true freshman on a limited basis in up to four games and that player would still have four years of additional eligibility.

“This change promotes not only fairness for college athletes, but also their health and well-being," Miami athletics director Blake James, chairman of the Division I Council, said in a statement. "Redshirt football student-athletes are more likely to remain engaged with the team, and starters will be less likely to feel pressure to play through injuries. Coaches will appreciate the additional flexibility and ability to give younger players an opportunity to participate in limited competition.”

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