NCAA to mull working group's proposal on immediate eligibility to athletes who transfer

Granting immediate eligibility to transfers who meet specific academic standards is one of the proposals an NCAA working group will ask the powerbrokers of college sports to evaluate this month.

The collection of proposals, "intended to improve the transfer environment for college athletes, coaches and teams in Division I," per the NCAA's release, could lead to a dramatic shift in the rules that govern transfers, albeit in the future.

"The transfer working group has referred to the committee on academics an idea that would allow immediate eligibility for students who meet certain academic benchmarks," said Michelle Hosick, the NCAA's associate director of public and media relations. "What those benchmarks would be, no one knows yet. The decision will be driven by data. The committee on academics meets next in October and will begin discussing the concept. ... It's not going to be voted on in the 2017-18 legislative cycle."

The proposals include increasing the penalties for tampering with a potential transfer, offering full aid to postgraduate transfers throughout their graduate programs and eliminating a school's power to control a transfer's list of desired destinations.

School presidents, faculty, coaches and athletic directors will receive a survey about the proposals generated by the Division I transfer working group, which meets in October, this week. The deadline to respond is Sept. 22.

The proposal to offer transfers "one-time" immediate eligibility if they meet academic benchmarks will next go to the committee on academics.

It's important to note, the bulk of the proposals will not become new NCAA rules in the near future. The discussion, evaluation and legislation process is lengthy at the Division I level.

College basketball coaches and leaders had discussed a 30-second shot clock for years before it was adopted for the 2015-16 season.

The transfer eligibility proposal and other ideas from the NCAA's transfer working group, comprised of Division I leaders such as Iowa athletic director Gary Barta, Ole Miss athletic director Ross Bjork and Boise State coach Bryan Harsin, would change college sports if adopted.

The transfer proposal could cause a backlash in college basketball.

For years, coaches have decried a transfer "epidemic" in the sport. Per ESPN's Jeff Goodman and Jeff Borzello, nearly 500 college basketball players were available on the transfer market during the 2016-17 season.

Baylor's Scott Drew said most college basketball coaches would oppose immediate eligibility for transfers, as a result.

"It would be the worst rule ever," he said. "It would be the wild, Wild West. Coaches don't agree on everything. On this, I think we'd be unanimous."

Purdue's Matt Painter agreed.

"I would not be in favor," he said. "It would not allow players to develop and grow as people and players. Any adversity would lead to a transfer and it would just retard their development. We would be constantly recruiting and not mentoring the players we have in our program. This would lead to constant poaching and the business of instant gratification instead of growth and development."

But Painter said he would back an alternative proposal for transfers.

"What would make sense would be to allow players whose coach leaves or is fired to transfer and be immediately eligible," he said. "That would make athletic directors a little less quick on the trigger to fire coaches."

The working group will also ask collegiate leaders to consider eliminating the rule that causes a transfer who contacts another school without receiving permission from his or her current program to forgo financial aid during the first year at a new school.

Former Pitt basketball star Cam Johnson was initially blocked from contacting multiple schools when he announced his decision to transfer after last season. After Pitt faced immense criticism for its decision, however, the school eventually lifted all restrictions, and Johnson transferred to North Carolina, where he'll be eligible this season as a grad transfer.