NCAA Expected to Pass Guidelines Limiting Transfer Athletes' Waiver Eligibility

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJune 26, 2019

Indiana's Kevin Yogi Ferrell (11) runs past the NCAA logo during practice for an NCAA college basketball tournament second round game in Omaha, Neb., Thursday, March 19, 2015. Indiana plays Wichita State on Friday. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
Nati Harnik/Associated Press

Restrictions for player transfers in college football and basketball may be tightened once again.

According to Dan Wolken of USA Today, the NCAA Division I council will meet in Indianapolis on Wednesday to discuss proposed new guidelines, which include an update to directions for decisions on whether waiver requests should be granted.

The new guidelines "in many cases appear to specify and narrow the circumstances in which athletes should be given waivers and raise the documentation requirements to obtain them" and come in response to an increase in requests and confusion over perceived inconsistencies in their outcomes.

That being said, the new guidelines aren't considered rules, but rather a set of directives for the Committee on Legislative Relief to consider when reviewing waiver requests.

In 2018, the NCAA instituted a new rule that would allow transferring players to have immediate eligibility at a new school if the athlete could show "documented mitigating circumstances outside of the student-athlete's control and directly impacts the health, safety or well-being of the student-athlete."

Previously, an athlete could also be granted waivers if they could prove "egregious behavior by a staff member or student at the previous institution," per Wolken.

The Associated Press reported in May that the total number of requests increased from 150 in 2017-18 to 250 in 2018-19, though the success rate for claims fell by two percentage points in 2018-19 compared to the previous four years.

"Across the board, the proposed new guidelines raise the bar for schools seeking a waiver on behalf of a student-athlete," attorney Tom Mars told Wolken. "Given the dramatic increase in the number of waivers being sought for the 2019-20 season, raising the bar strikes me as a sensible short-term reaction by the Legislative Council."

With the ongoing discussions surrounding players potentially profiting off their name and likeness in the future, the debate over just how much power the NCAA should be able to exert over players will continue. It's unlikely any new restrictions on the transfer portal or waiver requests will be popular with advocates for giving players more rights:

Jay Bilas @JayBilas

Are athletes students or employees? Transfer restrictions are not based upon principle, but simply to deter an asset moving. Clearly, athletes are employees...with non-compete clauses disguised as transfer restrictions. https://t.co/PkV3bkZxMo

Sam Vecenie @Sam_Vecenie

Yup. 100%. It’s a step backward with the NCAA trying to regain some ground here when the cat is already out of the bag. We’ll see though https://t.co/SOu5Tmykxw

Pat Forde @YahooForde

Summation: Tom Mars led the horse out of the barn. NCAA seeks to return horse to barn. https://t.co/XxVDgcoy3h

Tom Fornelli @TomFornelli

The NCAA really knows how to read the room! https://t.co/tAcGemMxc1

With states like California attempting to legislate NCAA players being allowed to profit off their likeness—and many people already feeling as though college athletes should be paid directly by the schools, given the amount of revenue many sports create—the NCAA finds itself in a battle to maintain a status quo that has been deemed outdated and even exploitative.