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Michelle Brutlag Hosick | | October 4, 2017

DI transfer group considers notification legislation

The Division I Transfer Working Group will develop over the next several weeks proposals intended to improve the transfer environment for college athletes, coaches and teams.

After the group’s Oct. 1-2 meeting in Indianapolis, working group chair Justin Sell said he was pleased with the group’s progress.

“The excellent membership and student-athlete feedback really helped the working group in its discussions this week,” said Sell, athletics director at South Dakota State. “I am confident that in the next few weeks we will come forward with a solid recommendation that will make a real difference in the transfer environment.”

The Division I Council could introduce some legislation as early as the 2017-18 cycle. The deadline for concepts to be considered this academic year is Nov. 1. Legislation addressing immediate eligibility for student-athletes who meet an academic benchmark and graduate student financial aid will not be considered in this year’s cycle.

More than 2,000 athletics administrators, faculty and head coaches responded to a survey whose results provided the working group with key ideas and input that it will consider more fully in the months ahead.

The most significant change that could be considered this year would eliminate the ability of coaches and schools to restrict aid to student-athletes after transferring. Currently, Division I college athletes who wish to transfer to another school must first receive permission from their current school to discuss transfer opportunities with other schools. If the school denies permission, the student-athlete can’t receive athletics aid for the first year after transferring.

The working group is still finalizing specifics, but it plans to ask the Council to introduce legislation that would establish a notification model, allowing a student to notify a school that he or she will transfer. The student could then pursue transfer opportunities and accept scholarships at other schools.

Additionally, once notification is given, the current school would have the option of not renewing athletics aid, permitting the school to offer that scholarship when recruiting a student-athlete for the next year.

Specific details will be discussed over the coming weeks, including timing and how students can more transparently communicate that they are looking for a new school. A companion piece of legislation, which would add notification of transfer to the list of reasons a school can decline to renew a scholarship, is under consideration and would need to be proposed and considered by the schools in the Atlantic Coast, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and Southeastern conferences.

Most survey respondents supported the shift to a notification of intent to transfer model. However, head coach feedback influenced the working group’s decision to move toward a notification of transfer model from the notification of intent to transfer. The change eliminated ambiguity about a student-athlete’s intent.

Additionally, the group recommended the Council introduce a proposal that would add tampering to the list of Level II violations, which are considered significant breaches of conduct by the Division I Committee on Infractions. More than two-thirds of the groups surveyed indicated they back such a change, with 92 percent of athletics directors indicating support.

Working group members believe this change is important and received enough broad support in the survey that they moved ahead to recommend legislation. The Council acted on that recommendation and introduced the proposal.

Working group members noted that feedback from other Division I groups — including the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, Board of Directors, Presidential Forum and Committee on Academics — will be critical as the group continues to develop concepts related to postgraduate financial aid and uniform transfer rules.

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