The NCAA’s transfer rules are under considerable scrutiny once again—the rules remain terrible, so this is to be expected—and perhaps there is real change on the horizon this time. The Commission on College Basketball, which was formed in the wake of the FBI scandal, has, among other things, the transfer issue on its plate. This Commission will issue recommendations to the NCAA later this month.
Among other things, the Commission has said already that it would consider the following adjustments to the transfer rules:
— Allow students who meet specific, high-achieving academic benchmarks to play immediately after the first time they transfer during their college experience.
— Allow prospective student-athletes who have signed a National Letter of Intent to transfer and play immediately if a head coach leaves the school of the student’s choice, as well as under other exceptions already in the rulebook. Because the Collegiate Commissioners Association manages the NLI, this idea would be referred to the CCA for consideration.
The aforementioned academic benchmark would be a 3.0 GPA, though as CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd explains in this piece, even that comes with complications, since some schools are theoretically more rigorous than others. (That take actually strikes me as nonsense; there is no doubt a difference between fields of study, however.)
An academic benchmark seems like a decent idea in theory, but I suspect in practice it would prove yet more incentive for major-college athletes to pass on a legitimate education for useless grade-boosters. If the APR is an unintended-but-obvious tax on academic rigor at the institutional level, then a GPA benchmark would probably be one self-imposed by the individual. Why risk your future mobility—not that you are thinking about transferring just now, heavens no, you love this coach and this program!—when you intend to make a living from sports rather than your degree?
I am entirely for more flexibility for athletes who want to leave one school for another, I’m just not sure this would be a proper way to get there. But it is still merely a discussion point for now—we don’t know that this will be among the final recommendations made by the Committee, to say nothing of its chances of being implemented.
If the entire matter seems over-complicated, that’s because it is, because the obvious solution—the ability to transfer wherever you want without a penalty of any kind—is too terrifying for the adults in charge to consider.