As it gets a commitment from Alabama graduate transfer quarterback Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma is blocking quarterback Austin Kendall from becoming immediately eligible at West Virginia as a graduate transfer, sources told ESPN.
Under new transfer rules, Kendall is able to talk to Mountaineers coaches and is free to transfer to the school. Oklahoma, however, still reserves the right under NCAA rules to keep Kendall from becoming immediately eligible at West Virginia, another Big 12 school, for the 2019 season, even though he has earned his undergraduate degree at Oklahoma.
Kendall could still transfer to West Virginia, but he would have to sit out the upcoming season, leaving him with only one year of eligibility remaining.
Kendall entered the transfer portal Friday after learning the day before that the Sooners had been pursuing Hurts and had scheduled for him to visit Norman over the weekend, a source said. Hurts committed to Oklahoma in a letter on The Players' Tribune on Wednesday.
Because classes at many FBS schools across the country started this week, Kendall's options for enrolling at a new university in time to participate in spring ball became limited. West Virginia had been a viable option, until Oklahoma intervened.
The SEC passed a rule last summer saying it would allow graduates to transfer within the conference and be eligible immediately, regardless. Previously, SEC players had to apply for a waiver. The Big 12 has no such rule, a league source confirmed.
Though not common, intraconference transfers do occur. In the Big 12, safety John Bonney left Texas for Texas Tech as a graduate transfer just before the 2018 season started and immediately became a key part in the Red Raiders' secondary, facing off against the Longhorns later in the season.
In 2016, Big 12 members did vote to change its intraconference transfer rule for walk-ons and retroactively applied it to Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield, giving him back a season of eligibility that he had previously lost. Mayfield had walked on to Texas Tech in 2013 then transferred to Oklahoma the following year without a scholarship. Under the previous Big 12 rule, which the league initially upheld before reversing course in a re-vote the following day, Mayfield would have, in addition to sitting out the first year, also lost a season of eligibility. With his fourth year of eligibility restored, Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy and led the Sooners to the College Football Playoff.
While an assistant at Kentucky, West Virginia coach Neal Brown had recruited Kendall, a Charlotte, North Carolina, native, out of high school. Kendall would figure to contend for the Mountaineers' starting job, with West Virginia looking to replace two-year starter Will Grier.
A source said that, regardless, Kendall is now committed to leaving Oklahoma and has withdrawn from classes at the school. He has visited Auburn this week, in addition to receiving interest from other schools.
Oklahoma officials were not immediately available for comment.