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Midweek Musings: Is immediate eligibility for transfers a good idea?

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Here’s what you need to know.

Track and Field: NCAA Indoor Championships Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

A major story broke Tuesday, when it was revealed that the NCAA is considering a vote that would make a significant amount of D-1 transfers immediately eligible. There’s always been a lot of conversation around NCAA transfer rules, and a lot can get lost in the shuffle, so here’s what you need to know:

1. This rule, if voted on and passed, would allow student-athletes who met minimum GPA requirements to be immediately eligible to play for their new schools.

2. If a student-athlete did not meet the minimum GPA requirement, they would still be required to sit out a year.

3. In order to move forward, a proposal must be completed by November 1st. This process has already begun.

4. Once the proposal is completed, a vote would take place (likely next April). If approved, the new rule could be in place for the 2018-19 athletic calendar.

This rule would absolutely appeal to those in the “well, coaches don’t have to sit out a year” camp, and it certainly makes sense. There’s a significant double standard when it comes to the way coaches can abandon their contracts and move on to a new school, seemingly without much consequence.

And, that’s not far from the truth. While many coaches have significant buyouts in their contracts, an attempt to disabuse them of the idea that they should see out greener pastures, often times those buyouts are negotiated down to a nominal amount, or are paid by the new school.

Meanwhile, the student-athlete loses a year of eligibility, or they are required to move down to a lower division in order to play immediately.

This would be a significant improvement to the current transfer system, for this reason. That being said, though, there are still some major drawbacks.

First, it could very well create a “farm system” between small schools and bigger programs, making it more difficult for small programs to hold on to breakout players. Say a sophomore wide receiver at Texas State racked up 1,300 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns, and now he’s off to play at Oklahoma because he met the grade requirement and can play immediately for the Sooners.

This is great for the player, and for OU, but not so much for Texas State, who struggles recruiting against big universities anyway. The Texas States of the world would now have to continually recruit their best players, even when they’re already on campus, for fear of having them bolt after a good season.

Here’s a concrete example: What if Andy Dalton, after a stellar junior campaign at “mid-major” TCU, transferred to Texas became their starting QB in 2010? (This is purely hypothetical, of course, I’m sure Dalton would have stayed at TCU. But, you get the idea).

You can ask yourself the same question about guys like Jerry Hughes, or David Hawthorne, or Jeremy Kerley, or, God forbid, LT.

Sitting out a year possibly keeps that player from making that jump. It helps elevate Texas State a little bit more, and possibly makes it a bit easier for them to recruit other receivers to their program down the road.

Not to mention, this could very well kill JUCO programs altogether. How many JUCO kids would get a chance at the next level, if they were suddenly competing against high school and college kids for a shot at a bigger university.

Again, concrete example: Think of TCU never recruiting Jason Verrett, or Paul Dawson, or Jason Teague, or Quincy Butler. All of those guys, and more, earned their shot at playing for TCU. They may have just been lost in the shuffle, if this new transfer rule had been in place back then.

Another drawback, connected to the first one, would simply be the likely increase in number of transfers per year. The NCAA already struggles to keep up with any tampering issues that may surface, and this wouldn’t make life easier. Small schools would, again, be at a great disadvantage if this was the case.

Now, I’m not 100% against altering the transfer rule, but perhaps we could add a few caveats to the rule, such as:

1. A significant program change (i.e. the hiring/firing of a head coach): Players often commit to universities, but they also commit because of the coaches at the school. If a head coach was to be fired, or to leave for another reason, student-athletes would be allowed a one-time transfer (with the GPA minimum requirement in tact) to be immediately eligible at a new school.

2. A significant personal life change (i.e. an ill family member): This one is already partially in place, but it seems to be utilized sporadically. A player who has a significant life event take place, should be allowed to transfer and become immediately eligible (without a GPA minimum requirement).

3. A cap on the number of immediately eligible D-1 transfers a single school could take: This would keep bigger universities from loading up on college talent while foregoing high schoolers who need more time to develop.

There’s still a lot up in the air when it comes to any changes to the current transfer rules, and there will certainly be a ton of conversations about the pros and cons of any change.

We know the rules probably need to be adjusted, but how they’re adjusted could seriously impact the college football landscape.