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.