NCAA Reviewing Football Transfer Rules; Hope for Resolution by 2019 Season

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistFebruary 15, 2019

FILE - In this Sept. 15, 2018, file photo, Georgia quarterback Justin Fields (1) throws a pass in the first half of an NCAA college football game against Middle Tennessee, in Athens, Ga. No. 2 Georgia will look for more consistent production than it managed the last two weeks against Missouri and Tennessee when it puts its perfect record on the line against Vanderbilt on Saturday night. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
John Bazemore/Associated Press

The NCAA reportedly plans to evaluate its transfer guidelines this offseason and will consider making changes to the system that will impact the immediate eligibility of a player who transferred prior to graduating. 

"We do believe attention on a small number of high-profile requests can skew perceptions of the scope of staff and committee review," Kaity McKittrick, who will be among those involved in the review, said, per ESPN's Dan Murphy. "Each waiver request is reviewed individually, as they each present a unique fact pattern and almost always confidential information about the student."

The committee hopes to have a resolution prior to the start of the 2019-20 academic calendar.

As Murphy notes, the NCAA loosened up its transfer guidelines in April 2018. The rule change allows players who transfer to gain immediate eligibility if their decision was "due to documented mitigating circumstances that are outside the student-athlete's control and directly impact the health, safety and well-being of the student-athlete."

Since that rule change, college football has seen a number of high-profile transfers in the last 10 months. Among the players to transfer are Shea Patterson (Ole Miss to Michigan), Justin Fields (Georgia to Ohio State) and Tate Martell (Ohio State to Miami).

Both Patterson and Fields were granted a waiver to become immediately eligible. A ruling on Martell has yet to be determined.

According to Murphy, a total of 29 FBS players have applied for immediate eligibility since the start of the 2018-19 academic year, with 19 players coming out successful in the matter.

That success rate has brought up talk of free agency becoming a reality in modern college football. Clemson coach Dabo Swinney went on the record, per ESPN's David M. Hale, in February 2018 to say that the rule change would lead to "free agency and total chaos."

Thomas Mars, who helped Patterson and Fields receive waivers, believes the transfer numbers are a reflection of college coaches, not the system.

"If people think the percentage of waivers granted is too high, the number of waivers that have been granted might just be a reflection of how the football coaching staffs are treating their players," Mars said, per Murphy. "It doesn't necessarily mean the NCAA is being too lenient."

After seeing how the new rules have been applied for nearly a year now, the NCAA has the opportunity to figure out what the best course of action is moving forward.

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