New Proposal Would Require All NCAA Transfers To Sit Out One Year

A new proposal would extend the NCAA’s “year in residence” requirement to all sports, requiring all transfers to sit out a full year before rejoining NCAA competition, though other proposals would allow students with a certain GPA to bypass that requirement.

The proposals are part of lots of potential tweaks to the NCAA transfer system mostly built around revenue sports. CBS Sports reported in January on a sweeping proposal, originated in the Big 12, which would make some major changes to the transfer landscape for all sports.

Currently, there exists a “year in residence” requirement that forces transfers to sit out one year before returning to NCAA competition – but that requirement is only in place for five NCAA sports: football, hockey, baseball, men’s basketball and women’s basketball. In all other sports, an athlete is immediately eligible to compete, provided they receive a release from their former school. (When swimmers or divers have to sit out a year in a transfer situation, it’s often because either their previous school didn’t release them or they couldn’t get an NCAA waiver allowing them to compete.)

The Big 12 proposal would essentially extend the stricter transfer rules to all other sports, while creating more exceptions. Athletes would be allowed to compete immediately if their coach was fired or left the school, or if their program gets hit with an NCAA postseason ban.

Another proposal would establish a GPA threshold by which athletes with a certain grade point average could compete immediately after transferring. CBS Sports reported this week that the current proposal sets the GPA bar at 3.3. That means athletes with a GPA of 3.3 or better could transfer without sitting out a year, while those with GPAs of 3.2 or lower would have to sit out the year upon transferring. That would currently only affect the five sports with the sit-out requirement, but would affect swimming & diving if the stricter rules are extended to all sports.

The GPA threshold proposal has come under fire, though, from critics who say it unfairly impacts student-athletes who are racial minorities. CBS Sports reports that 47 percent of transferring white athletes would be eligible to compete under the 3.3 GPA proposal, while only 14 percent of African-American transfers would be eligible. The racial disparity has also added some fire to the stark divide between revenue-generating sports (which generally have much higher participation by student-athletes in racial minorities) and non-revenue sports.

Big 12 faculty reps wrote to the NCAA, criticizing transfer rules that “would favor white student-athletes whose efforts do not generate positive revenue over African-American student-athletes whose efforts do,” per CBS Sports. Critics also say the GPA threshold could lead to lawsuits and a flood of waiver applications. One athletic director is quoted in the CBS Sports piece noting that students who miss the GPA threshold by a small amount could point to a concussion incurred during competition as the reason for missing the threshold.

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I support this. This transfer fad has been very chaotic. I feel like there’s a new one everyday. Stops athletes from making flippant decisions.


Yes, by all means, let’s support NCAA frauds and incompetent and greedy universities over student athletes.


How does this rule help the NCAA or the universities? How do they benefit from this?


Because when they cut kids for no readon their stuck there. If the coach is completely an idiot they are stuck there. Trust me there are a lot of abuses…spoiled athlete is something people say when they have no first hand experience.


Who said anything about “spoiled athletes”? Where did that come from?

So the universities benefit because they can cut kids and the kids have to stay there? That’s really helping the universities? That’s what you are saying?

And no one get’s cut for “no reason”, there’s always a reason. You may not agree with the reason but names are not drawn out of a hat.


Absolutely agree! The NCAA and Universities don’t put the student first. The coaches can do whatever they want to these kids and it’s only the kids that suffer both athletically and academically.


What do you think these coaches are doing to these kids? Where does all this hate for coaches come from? They sacrifice so much time and energy and 99.9% want the absolute best for each kid and spend so much time away from their own families to benefit the athletes!!!

Steve Schaffer

No, coaches cannot do whatever they want to their athletes. If you feel your athlete has been mistreated there are mechanisms in every athletic department to report that. If NCAA rules protecting athlete welfare have not been followed, then report it to your compliance department. However, making broad and unsubstantiated complaints on this forum won’t get you anywhere.


So you think any athlete can walk into compliance when there are abuses? Trust me that is the furthest thing from the truth in top level programs. 1st hand knowledge! As far as this NCAA rule goes, if the current team is willing to release the athlete or has cut them and the student is eligible at their current school and another school has interest, it should be completely up to the student and parents where their tuition dollars are spent. Not the NCAA’s place and is an over reach of authority!

Steve Schaffer

It IS completely up to the student and parents where their tuition dollars are spent. The NCAA has no say in that.

And YES you can report abuses. Most, if not all compliance departments have anonymous reporting systems. If your compliance department is not responsive go to the FAR, or the Dean of Students, or President’s office. Or take your evidence to the press or a lawyer. Never let abuse go unreported.


I disagree completely. The ability to move from school to school within reason should be up to the swimmers discretion. As long as the athlete can complete their degree in 5 years and is in good academic standing, then there shouldn’t be a reason to have to sit out a year of competition. If you’re unhappy with your environment for any reason be it academic or athletic, there should be minimal consequence for you to try and improve that situation.

A swimmer can move from school to school as much as they want to. They just can’t move from NCAA team to NCAA team as much as they want to.

I think the “within reason” is what everyone is trying to figure out.


True, it wouldn’t affect the swimmer’s ability to transfer for academic reasons. To a student athlete’s experience, I believe competing is an essential element to that experience. Transferring is already hard. And navigating a new institution and trying to find where you belong a team can be tricky things. The ability to compete helps with that I believe. You get the team experience and and help finding your social circle. To have to sit competiton can really isolate someone from their team. I think the concern is academic, maybe they can put a cap on the number of competitions per quarter/semester they are allowed to compete. I think that would be a much more equitable compromise than having transfers sit… Read more »


I think coaches should have same rule if under contract! Why should athletes have transfer rules but not coaches?


What about Community College transfers. There was a woman Tse that did a 2:17 200 yard breaststroke. She should be require to wait if a 4 year school picks her up.


No because they are graduating from those universities in a lot of cases by their second year and aren’t considered to be transferring like someone such as Zach Apple


Why 5 years? Why not 4 (the *normal* student routine)?


4 yrs is difficult w athletes demand on time


BS, they’re STUDENT-athletes. Don’t forget that. The goal for every one of them should be to graduate within 4 years (completely doable, even with that “demand on time” as an athlete). With rising costs of post-secondary education along with theoretically a lost year in income (post graduation), this should be a no-brainer. They’re allowed to put “student-athlete” on their resume and it absolutely should help them in graduate/med/law school placement and/or job opportunities, but only because they proved they went above and beyond what a regular student did. Taking extra time to do that minimizes that ideal.


The GOAL might be for a 4 year graduation path, but stuff happens and many, many students need an extra semester or 2 to complete their courses. Why punish the athlete for this fact?


At what point did I say this was punishing the athlete? You’re describing stuff that happens to some STUDENTS, regardless of affiliation. That’s a STUDENT issue, not an athlete issue.

Becky D

4 yrs is difficult if you have required classes that are hard to get into. Depending on the school and the program, *normal* student routine is a mess. The schools don’t necessarily prioritize getting you in and out in 4 years. You don’t need to be an athlete to run into these issues. This was the primary decision point for me.


That doesn’t take away from the point that it should be the goal to graduate in 4 years, regardless of athlete designation. And the majority of students pull that off.


Goal, yes, but setting by legislation can be harsh, And I question your last statement; I didn’t understand that “the majority” of students get through in 4 years.


I would’ve loved to graduate in 4 years but the program I was in (elementary education) was IMPOSSIBLE to do in less than 4 1/2- and that was only if you applied & got accepted to the school of ed after your freshman year (the earliest they would allow.) Anyone who waited until their sophmore year or later to know they wanted to be a teacher would have no choice but to go to school 5 years or longer. Stop with your judgement.

Phil McDade

On the other hand, everyone involved in NCAA athletics — from university chancellors/presidents to faculty representatives overseeing athletics to coaches to even NCAA regulators — can leave their job at a moment’s notice with no repercussions to the athletic team they help administer and guide. And that’s fair….how?


No wait, I know the answer! ITS NOT!! This about protecting the universities, specifically the athletic departments. As with 99.999% of all NCAA actions, it is not meant to help the student athlete, at all.


It’s not about the Universities. it’s about the integrity of the sport. If Alabama is stacked and you transfer there bc they need a kicker and you want to National title you are unable to do that. That’s the point of this rule.


Without the athletic departments, there would be no such thing as a “student-athlete”



Steve Schaffer

No, they cannot. Head Coaches and other university employees who are considered uniquely qualified and more difficult to replace, generally have contracts that specify that they must get written permission to contact prospective employers. Their contracts often require a buy out amount that they must pay back to the university should they choose leave prior to the expiration of their contract.

Athletes, on the other hand, under current rules only need to inform the athletic department of their intent to transfer (permission no longer required), and they can be immediately eligible for the next season under the one time transfer exemption.


Who are you to decide what is best for the person?

It is like telling a person they can’t change companies or jobs.

This is nothing but another power trip from the NCAA.


The students matter too. To assume they are flippant is arrogant


The NCAA doesn’t care about swimming so they should just let college swimmers do whatever they want


Actually a pretty compelling argument.


So, if a student-athlete doesn’t perform on the field, court or pool, they could get cut from the team. If a student-athlete violates a team rule, they can be cut from the team. But if they are unhappy at the college, the athletic program, they decide to change majors to something that isn’t offered at a particular college, they haven’t made the conference meet in 2 seasons or for any other reason, they want to transfer, they will have to sit out a year from competition? How is this fair? Also, there was no mention about releasing the student-athletes if their sport is dropped by the college. I assume that they would still be able to transfer without sitting out… Read more »


What purpose does it serve to force a student athlete to sit out a year after transferring, provided they are in good academic standing? Is there some perceived harm to the original school? It’s not like they’re taking their athletic scholarship money with them to the new school. If a coach can “run off” a scholarship athlete to open up a spot on their team for a potentially higher-performing recruit, why can’t athletes make similar decisions about their own college athletic careers without being punished? As long as coaches are prohibited from actively recruiting athletes from other schools, then what’s big deal? It’s an archaic rule that should have been eliminated a long time ago.


Let’s not forget the decision to attend a school is being made earlier and earlier by the athletes.


That’s not the NCAA’s (or the university’s) fault.


Reallly? Who is recruiting these kids younger and younger, making promises and asking for a commitment earlier? Who just tweaked the recruiting system so juniors can take visits?


The athletes asked for earlier recruiting trips. Coaches do not like this, it was pushed by athletes. Does this change your opinion or is it somehow still the coaches’ fault?


Really? Whats the name if this powerful student sthlete group that asked the NCAA for earlier visits…oh right there isnt one.

Steve Schaffer

Not the Swimming coaches. We are fighting the junior year official visits. We don’t want them. The change was to put an end to pre-high school recruiting that occurs in TEAM SPORTS.

No one is forcing juniors to make early decisions. That can’t happen without their willingness to do so. Swimmers should just say no if they don’t want to make a decision that early. Why would anyone think that a coach who gives unreasonable junior year decision deadlines is someone who has their best interests in mind? That type of recruiting practice should be a huge red flag. And yet, there seems to be no shortage of swimmers rushing to get their commitments posted online.

Steve Schaffer

Eligibility will be immediate in the case of a dropped program.

IU Swammer

Your life changes a lot when you go to school, and you don’t get a full picture on recruiting trips. This rule would do nothing to help student-athletes—it only helps programs. I get that you don’t want top programs poaching and programs take a big risk with every athlete, but the risk is so much greater for the athlete. You only have four years. You’re miserably unhappy? Transfer and you’re down to 3, 2 if you don’t count the year of misery. There are already so many hurdles in the way of transfering. You don’t go through that process on a whim. “Transfer craziness” for fans is a mild inconvenience. Transferring as an athlete is a total upheaval of your… Read more »


How does it help programs? You never explained that.

other guy

It means programs have all of the leverage after a 17 year old student-athlete signs their letter of intent. The student-athlete is now locked into that team for the next 5 years unless they want to sacrifice an entire year of competition, not an easy decision to make. If they aren’t on full scholarship, this could mean they have to pay another year of tuition.

Programs are able to cut student-athletes at any time and still go on competing with a full roster, but a student can’t leave and still compete? For most sports this is 1.5 years away from college competition (NCAA’s in March, first meets in September).


Yes, there is nothing a college coach wants more than a kid who is miserable and now stays on their team bc transferring is hard. Is that what you think coaches want? Do you think that helps programs?

Do you see a parallel in the fact that when an athlete is awarded a scholarship the school is now locked in to that “for the next 5 years of competition”?

And saying 1.5 year is kinda lame when .5 of those years there is no collegiate competition for anyone. That’s a classic example of trying to inflate your point.


As someone who transferred after their sophomore year (out of IU actually) I can personally say transferring is not a sporadic or easy decision to make. Making an athlete sit out a year is completely unfair, it may force people to stay in a place they are unhappy and unwanted. And for those who were cut from a team, they may not have a choice except to transfer if they want to continue their collegiate career. Athletes carry great risk when they transfer as stated by IU Swammer, the transfer process is already difficult with releases and the restrictions, plus you run the risk of having to do a 5th year due to credits not going through. Athletes risk enough… Read more »

Steve Schaffer

Athletes no longer need releases to transfer. Requests to transfer are immediate granted and cannot be restricted by coaches.

The eligibility issue is still undecided and driven by team sports. My sense is that most Swimming coaches are fine with the current 1 time transfer exception for immediate eligibility, at least for outside the conference.

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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