Football Coaches Transfer Idea: Graduates Earn a Year Back
The American Football Coaches Association wants the NCAA to consider allowing players who transfer and sit out a season at their new school to earn back that year of eligibility by graduating.
AFCA Executive Director Todd Berry said Tuesday the association's board of trustees, a group of active college coaches representing each FBS conference along with FCS, Division II and Division III, unanimously backed the proposal to contribute to the NCAA's work on reforming transfer rules.
Berry was in Arizona putting the idea in front of coaches from the Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12, American Athletic Conference, Mid-American and Mountain West. The leagues are holding spring meetings.
An NCAA working group has been crafting what it hopes will be comprehensive changes to transfer rules for all sports, which currently vary from sport to sport and in some ways from conference to conference.
The AFCA's proposal seems like a long shot because it could give some athletes the opportunity to have five years of competition over six years of college. Current NCAA rules allow athletes to compete for four years while being in college for five.
Justin Sell, the South Dakota State athletic director who is leading the NCAA's transfer working group, said opening the door to five years of competition would have ramifications beyond transfers and might not be something the working group can handle.
"That's an overarching discussion that might be outside our purview," Sell said. "If you're going to change the model in total that changes everything."
Berry said NCAA data shows students that transfer are less likely to graduate.
"That's the main problem with the whole transfer piece is the fact that a lot of them are not graduating," Berry said. "We want to give some incentive for that kid to graduate."
Berry also said the coaches would like changes to the transfers rules so the school receiving the player takes on any penalties to the team's Academic Progress Rating if the transferring player had a grade-point average below 2.6.
Currently, the player's original school is in danger of losing a point toward its APR if the player transfers out with a GPA below 2.6. A team can face NCAA penalties if its APR falls below certain thresholds.
The transfer working group is trying to come up with a package of reforms it can present to the Division I Board of Directors this summer, and hopefully have in place for the next school year.
The areas in which there appear to be agreement involve eliminating the ability of schools to block a player from transferring or dictate where a player goes. Proposals that would stiffen penalties for tampering or improper recruiting have also made progress and have support.
The rest is still being worked out. The working group last month said in a statement it was still considering whether athletes in all sports should be required to sit out a season after changing schools, the way football and basketball players now do. Some sports, such as volleyball and golf, allow a one-time exception for athletes to transfer and play immediately.
Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt said he has doubts about one-size-fits-all-sports transfer rules, including the AFCA's idea.
"I would support the conversation, but I think it's got to be sport-by-sport," Hocutt said. "I don't think it can be a discussion that encompasses all 17 sports that we have at Texas Tech."
Sell said the Commission on College Basketball's recommendation that men's basketball players continue to sit out a season after a transfer could also influence how the NCAA goes forward on reform.
The working group is also considering allowing athletes with grade-point averages above 3.0, maybe even as high as 3.5, to transfer without sitting out. The proposal has some in college sports concerned about the ramifications.
"Some of the racial bias that is probably inherent in a GPA based off the statistics, all of that is gone," Berry said. "This is just basically, you do well, you're going to get rewarded."