The NCAA is about to open up a massive can of worms. Last month, we heard that NCAA president Mark Emmert wanted to shrink down the rulebook, asserting “It’s very complicated to take a 400-plus-page rule book and shrink it down to something sensible.”
Well, according to a report from the Birmingham News, the NCAA has begun
that process and shockingly, one of premiere items on the agenda is discussions to allow immediate eligibility for transfers in all sports. It has been argued for years that its unfair NCAA coaches can leave programs for another without many penalties, but college athletes have to sit out a season to begin playing at their new school. Well, that may change soon.
Currently, NCAA football players have to satisfy what is called a “residency requirement,” forcing them to sit a year before they can be eligible to play again. If this rule is approved, players will be able to play right away at their new schools provided their graduation progress is not hindered. Currently, the only exceptions to this rule are players who have already graduated or granted “hardship” waivers for personal issues.
Common sense would dictate that coaches and AD’s around the country will be against this because it would allow the college athlete pool to become extremely liquid, enabling transferring all the time and thus making it easier to lose players every season. This would obviously be a nightmare for coaches.
I cannot see immediate eligibility being a realistic scenario, but if it gains steam the entire recruiting game would change. The only way I see this making any sense is if the NCAA were to allow only one transfer for immediate play and than enforce the residency requirement beyond that decision.
The proposal sounds exciting, but makes little sense with respect to college coaches building up programs. They’d have to change the four-year scholarship rules as well to coincide with immediate eligibility and if they don’t, kids will just follow coaches that leave those programs without any real penalty. This would change the game entirely. How about the boosters? Imagine them salivating at the mouth at the prospects of freshman all-Americans being available on the open market? Instead of changing the transfer rules for immediate eligibility, why not impose harsher penalties and sanctions for coaches leaving mid-contract? I think Emmert and his mignons have it backwards.