NCAA Transfers – Common Mistakes

Rick AllenHere are two recent examples of how NOT to approach the transfer process:

In one case, the parent of a student-athlete sent out e-mails to other schools stating that their child was considering a transfer from School A.  Some of these schools sent “permission to contact” request forms to School A to speak to this athlete.  The problem was that the athlete didn’t know the parent had sent those e-mails, and hadn’t discussed this with their current coach.

In another case, an athlete approached an opposing coach on the field following a game to ask about a transfer to that school.  Her current coach observed the discussion and asked what was going on.  Once again, the athlete had not mentioned to the current coach what she was planning beforehand.

In each case, the athlete has been kicked off of their team, and may be denied the right to talk to those schools about a possible transfer because they didn’t talk with their coach in advance.

Don’t make mistakes that end your athletic career or jeopardize your scholarship!  

The NCAA transfer process can be very stressful and uncomfortable, but if done properly can result in the athlete being in a much better situation and poised for success.  If you have questions about the transfer rules and process, we have a few resources that can help!

 

About Rick Allen

25+ years NCAA Rules Expertise, including Director of Compliance at 2 major DI schools

Former President of National Association for Athletic Compliance (NAAC)

Conducts compliance reviews and audits at NCAA Schools throughout the U.S.

Consulted with NAIA schools transitioning to NCAA membership status

Dad of a DI & DII student-athlete

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74 Responses to NCAA Transfers – Common Mistakes

  • Mike

    Rick,

    I was wondering how being expelled was treated by the NCAA in terms of APR? If an expelled player enrolls immediately in a JC or another 4 year school, does the school he was expelled from take an APR hit (assuming GPA of 2.6 or higher)?

    Thanks!

    • Mike,

      The school would most likely take an APR hit in this situation, because they would not be able to say that the player would be eligible the following semester. So they would probably lose at least one APR point, and may lose both points for that athlete.

      Rick

      • Tyler

        Rick,

        Hi, I played at an naia school during the fall of 2012. I quit the team mid season and stopped going to class. I did not withdraw and only passed 1 class. I did not attend school for a full year, and now have transferred to a division 2 school. Since I had sat out a full year, would I still have to sit another full year at my school now? and if not would I have to maintain a good GPA this spring semester in order to be eligible for fall?

        • Tyler,

          You’re required to attend the Div. II school for one academic year (two semesters) as a full-time student before you’re eligible for competition since you were ineligible when you left the NAIA school.

          Rick

  • Leah

    I came across your website today while helping someone research transfer options. We have a question about his eligibility if he decides to transfer. He was a “preferred walk on” for a D1 school to play football. He was redshirted his freshman year and since then has played 2 years. He received an athletic grant in aid for this past semester only. My question is will he have to sit out a year if he transfers because of this one semester of aid? Thank you so much for your help!

    • Leah,

      He will have to sit out if he makes a “lateral” transfer to another Div. I program in the same division (either FBS or FCS). If he transfers “down” (from FBS to FCS, or from one of those to Div. II), he won’t be required to sit out for a year.

      Rick

  • Deborah

    Hello,

    Is there anyway to transfer from a Division 1 football program to another D1 football program without sitting out a year?

    Thank you for your help.

    • Deborah,

      That is possible if the athlete is not on an athletic scholarship at their current school, and wasn’t recruited to their current school (as defined by the NCAA). It’s also possible for an athlete transferring “down” from an FBS school to an FCS school, even if they are on scholarship at, or were recruited to, the FBS school.

      Rick

      • Tim

        I’m planning on playing football this year for a d-1 (Conf. usA) (fbs) as a non recruit walk on, and want to transfer next year to another d-1 (fbs) (ACC) school, so I’ll be able to transfer without having to sit a year? Cool, and my friend is playing for a junior college this year, also as a non-recruit walk on, and wants to transfer next year to the same school,
        So he’ll not have to sit out either? Thanks Rick

        • Tim,

          You won’t have to sit out for a year as long as you meet the academic requirements for eligibility as a 4-4 Div. I FB transfer. Your friends eligibility will depend upon his status as a Qualifier or a Non-Qualifier when he finished HS, and upon his academic standing when he leaves the JUCO.

          Rick

          • chuck

            Question…….my son is a junior at a Division II school. He was not redshirted…….what is his options for transferring?

          • Chuck,

            Depending upon your son’s sport, and his academic standing, he may be able to be immediately eligible next year at another school, or he may have to sit out from competition during his first “year in residence”, in which case he could use his redshirt year, and still have one year of eligibility remaining.

            If you would like to discuss his situation and his options in detail, I’ll be glad to do so. I frequently consult with athletes and/or parents regarding NCAA eligibility and transfer rules. All consultations are completely confidential.

            If a consultation is of interest, contact me directly at rick@informedathlete.com.

            As an alternative, you may be interested in downloading our “Informed Athlete’s Guide to Transfers” which can be purchased from the Store of our website. Here’s a link to the Transfer Guide:

            http://www.informedathlete.com/informed-athletes-transfer-guide

            Rick

  • Jim

    Hello,

    Please clarify the following if you can: A D1 baseball player transfers to a D2 program in his Junior year. Can he ‘transfer back’ to a D1 school for his senior year w/o sitting-out the required one year if it was a D1 to D1 transfer? Assume he can transfer to another D2 w/o any issues. Is that correct?

    Thank you for your help.

    • Jim,

      In these scenarios, if your son participates in baseball at the Div. II program for more than 14 days, he will be required to sit out from competition during his first year at the next school, regardless of whether he returns to the Div. I program, or moves on to another Div. II program.

      Rick

  • Alfredo

    Hey Rick I have a question, im currently attending a community college and have not taken part of any school sports so that when I transfer I have all my eligibility still after attaining my AA degree. I am wanting to walk-on to play D1 football at UCF. Since I have not played any sports Will I have my 4 years of eligibility still ? What will I be considered, a Junior ? , After my first year will I be considered a Senior with 3 years of eligibility left ?

    • Alfredo,

      NCAA Div. I allows athletes a “five-year clock” in which to complete your eligibility. The clock starts when you first enroll at any college as a full-time student. Assuming you are currently in your second year of full-time enrollment at the community college, you will have no more than three years of eligibility available to you.

      Rick

  • Mya

    If I’m a transfer from a junior college, on a track scholarship and went to a D1 school that has the 3 semester, and I’m already in my indoor season. However, one of my parents has being having health problems which is causing financial problem as well, now I find myself wanting to go back to my family to be with them in there time of need. What are the penalties in leaving now.

    • Mya,

      If you leave in the middle of a term, you will earn zero credit hours and that will harm your eligibility when you return to this school, or if you transfer to a school closer to home. Also, while I hope the school would understand your situation, they could make you pay for your school expenses for this term if you quit your team in the middle of the season.

      Rick

  • John

    Ok, so I was redshirt my freshman year at a NAIA football program and ended up qutting the team after spring ball. I stayed at the same NAIA school for my sophmore year. If I transfer schools, to D1-D3 how many years of eligibility would I have left?

    • John,

      You will have 3 years of eligibility left at most, depending upon whether you transfer to NCAA Div. I, II, or III.

      Rick

  • CHrista

    My son is currently a freshman attending a NCAA div 2 on a baseball scholarship. He wants to play at a Div 1 college but did not get looked at in high school. He is totally qualified and is an honor student so academics is not an issue. how can he transfer without sitting out a year? Can he go to a Jucco and play a year there and then be eligible to transfer to div 1.

    • Christa,

      Since your son is on a baseball scholarship, if he transfers directly to a Div. I program, he will have to attend the school for a year (two semesters) before being eligible to play. He could take the “4-2-4 route” by going to a JUCO and then to Div. I.

      I frequently consult with athletes and/or parents on the rules and steps involved in navigating the transfer process. I would be happy to talk with you to discuss his options, and explain the transfer eligibility requirements in detail.

      If a consultation is of interest, contact me directly. All consultations are completely confidential.

      Rick

      Rick

  • George

    Rick,
    I currently was “thrown off” a division III team this winter leading into the spring to play my last semester of eligibility aka I’m a senior. With that being said the coach told me I was “thrown out” of the university, but when it came down to it, this was false and I withdrew myself before any more complications and taking this spring semester off. Now with this being said there is a new DI program starting by my home now where I reside. I was wondering if I still have my one year of eligibility to use to play for this DI squad after playing 3 1/2 years at my former DIII squad. Also if I am able to play how would I go about doing this transfer. Thanks,
    George

    • George,

      It would sure be helpful if you would tell me what your sport is. Also, how many seasons have you actually played in games for your school against other teams? Also, when you withdrew, was it between semesters, or after you had already started classes for the Spring semester?

      Rick

      • George

        Rick,

        Sorry for the lack of info first time around. The sport is lacrosse, and I was a walk-on. I have played in games all 3 seasons, 2 freshman year, 3 sophomore year, and 5 games junior year. With that being said I have not started any of them and only split time in one my junior year. I also withdrew 2 weeks before the spring semester started. Hope this clarified any confusion. Thanks again,
        George

        • George,

          Your ability to be eligible upon transfer to another school will depend upon whether your current school can say that you would have been “eligible for competition” this semester if you had stayed at the school rather than withdrawing from the school. That’s one of the requirements in transferring from one NCAA school to another – would you be eligible had you stayed at your previous school. If you would not have been eligible had you stayed, you can’t be eligible in your first year at another NCAA school.

          Rick

  • Ryan

    Rick
    I am currently enrolled at a D1 school. I am a Freshman and I was given the opportunity to walk on to the football team this spring. If I decided that I wanted to transfer, would I have to have written permission to contact other schools even though I never took an official visit or had anything paid for by the athletic staff? Also since I was not a recruited athlete, would I be eligible to play immediately if I transferred?

    • Ryan,

      As a non-recruited, non-scholarship athlete, you can be eligible to play immediately at another Div. I school as long as you meet the academic requirements. However, if you have already joined the Div. I program for team meetings and strength and conditioning workouts in advance of spring practice, you will be required to request “permission to contact” before coaches at other NCAA schools can discuss a possible transfer with you.

      Rick

      • Ryan

        Is the other D1 school allowed to give me a scholarship if I transferred?

          • Ryan

            One more question. Once I am granted permission to contact, are other coaches allowed to come watch me during the evaluation period?

          • Ryan,

            Yes, they are allowed to, but they probably won’t do so because they will be concentrating their efforts on HS and JUCO recruits.

            Rick

  • ann

    My child is competing on a swim team with a D1 school. She did not receive a scholarship or any other aide. (Does this make her a “walk on”?) She was recruited and did sign a letter on signing day.

    Does she still need to talk to your current coach before approaching coaches of other schools about transferring?
    thank you

    • Ann,

      Yes, obtaining “permission to contact” is required because she is a member of the team, regardless of her scholarship status.

      Rick

  • Mya

    If I am in my indoor season and I’m a junior transfer from a junior college to a div I school, and if I fail one class, and cant compete outside outdoor, would I have have an addition outdoor season or would that be a lost of a season?

    • Mya,

      That would depend upon whether you have already used a redshirt season. If you haven’t, then you may still have two years of eligibility.

      Rick

      • Mya

        Thank you I understand now. How does the transfer rule apply if I wanted to run for a different school next year? Is there a way I dont have to sit out a year?

        • Mya,

          Yes, it is possible to be eligible next year and not have to sit out a year. Given your situation, you may want to contact me directly for a private consultation. All consultations are completely confidential. Or, you may be interested in our “Informed Athlete’s Guide to Transfers” which can be purchased from the Store of our website. Here’s a link to the Transfer Guide:

          http://www.informedathlete.com/informed-athletes-transfer-guide

          Rick

  • Gord

    Hi Rick,
    Great info BTW. My son is currently attending a D2 school on a partial athletic scholarship, can he transfer to a D1 school or another D2(outside the conference) without penalty? Other than the permission to contact, please let me know.
    thanks!

    • Hi Gord,

      That will be possible (unless he transfers to a Div. I baseball, basketball, or football program), as long as he is in good shape academically, such that he would be eligible next year if he were staying at his current school.

      Rick

  • Kelley

    Hi Rick,
    My daughter signed her NLI to a D2 school with a generous soccer scholarship, but the coach who has recruited her has left the program. She no longer wants to attended that school because of that reason. She understand the rules of the NLI, but she doesn’t want to be stuck in a place where she wouldn’t be the happiest. What should she do?

    • Kelley,

      She should speak with the school soon to request her release from her NLI commitment. The sooner she lets them know of her intentions, they can possibly use the scholarship to recruit another player, so it benefits both her and the school to let them know sooner rather than later.

      Rick

      • Kelley

        They decided to release her. If she attends a D2 school in a different conference, will she be penalized?

        • Kelley,

          She won’t be penalized as long as the school agrees to her using the “One-Time Transfer Exception” and she meets the academic requirements to be eligible upon transfer.

          Rick

  • DJ

    This summer, my son will attend JUCO to play football. He is NCAA Eligible with the required HS GPA and ACT scores. My son is still recovering from an injury that occurred during the later part of the football season. A Red-Shirt year may be in the future. If he transfer from JUCO to a D-1 School to play football after the Red-Shirt year, how many years will he have left to play?

    • DJ,

      If he redshirts this Fall at the JUCO, and then transfers to a Div. I program, he’ll have four years of eligibility available.

      Rick

  • OB

    My son has finished his JUCO basketball season. He is interested in transferring to another JUCO. When can he or I contact other schools?

    • OB,

      The JUCO rules indicate that contact with another JUCO isn’t supposed to occur until after the end of the semester.

      Rick

  • I am currently a D1aa football player. I am a freshman and I am going to transfer once I finish out this semester. Do I have to participate in Spring football even I am transferring?

    • Spencer,

      If you are on a football scholarship, the athletic department could declare that you have quit the team and cancel your scholarship if you don’t participate in spring practice.

      Rick

    • And I am a walk on who has no athletic scholarship. Will I be eligible to play immediately as well?

      • Spencer,

        Since you’re a walk-on, skipping spring practice obviously won’t effect a scholarship. It will be possible for you to be immediately eligible at the next school if your academics are in good order.

        Rick

  • Richard

    Got a freshman playing baseball at D1. School provided overnight accommodations for recruit class his senior year of high school (we paid our own transportation) but otherwise he was not “technically” recruited. He is a preferred walk on with academic money. He has not played in one game (no explanation as to why but his position is deep). If he doesn’t play in one official game this year does he retain all four years of athletic eligibility at current school or another school? Can they still redshirt him (for this year) at the end of this season if he doesn’t play any games so he goes in as a RFr next season? Assuming he would have to sit a year at another D1 because of the paid visit? But would he be eligible immediately at a D2 or D3 for the next season?

    • Richard, to answer your questions in order:

      1. Yes.
      2. Yes.
      3. Yes.
      4. Yes, as long as he meets the academic requirements for transfer.

      Rick

  • B

    Rick,

    On the topic of NLIs. Are they ALWAYS accompanied by a financial component? Is there always a scholarship if some size offered?

    • B,

      An NLI issued by an NCAA Div. I or II school isn’t valid unless it is accompanied by an athletic scholarship agreement. Be aware that schools sometimes also issue an institutional letter of intent, which is not the same as the NLI.

      This is also not the same as a letter of intent with an NAIA school, or an JUCO. JUCO letters of intent can be issued without an athletic scholarship agreement, and I am not sure of the NAIA procedures with a letter of intent.

      Rick

  • Jason

    I run track at a D2 college but i have lost my passion and now i am looking to transfer to a school closer to home and become a regular student for the fall semester. Would i be penalized for applying to another school and accepting the offer of admittance to that school if i am still mid-season and haven’t talked to my coach??

    • Jason,

      Your “penalty” might be being kicked off your team if the coach finds out that your heart isn’t in it, and that you’re not fully committed to the team because you’ve already applied to another school. As long as you don’t voluntarily quit your team before the end of the season they can’t take away your scholarship (if you have one).

      Rick

  • Ashlyn

    Hey there!

    I was wondering about how I could go about the transfer process after not playing for a year.. if that is at all possible!

    Thanks,

    Ashlyn

  • Ryan

    I have heard a lot about a school offering a financial aid agreement to a transfer. What does the financial aid agreement for football at a D1A school mean exactly?

    • Ryan,

      A financial aid agreement offered by a football program is just another term for a football scholarship.

      Rick

  • Simon

    Hello Rick,

    I have a foreign athlete, who would like to attend a division 2 basketball school “Non Athletic Scholarship” but wants to join the team. He is currently going through eligibility process with the NCAA eligibility center. He has competed in Germany’s PRO A and B league. He doesn’t have agent and hasn’t receive any financial incentives. Question: Do you see a problem with his eligibility ?

    Thanks
    Simon

    • Simon,

      Without knowing the specifics of that league and the teams in the league, I won’t speculate as to his eligibility.

      Rick

  • Maria

    Hello,

    I am a Div I student-athlete and am currently on the tennis team at my school, however I do not enjoy my time there and was thinking of transferring to another school. Is it too late to transfer in May to another Division I school that is a good school?
    Thanks,
    Maria

    • Maria,

      It’s not too late to transfer. The first step in the process is that you must have permission from your current school before coaches at other Div. I programs can talk with you about a possible transfer.

      Rick

  • Ryan

    Rick,
    Is there any way for me to be immediately eligible if I were to transfer to a school in the same conference? I am a D1 FBS football player and was a non-recruited walk on.

    • Ryan,

      That will depend on the intra-conference transfer rule for your conference, as well as whether your current school will release you. Most likely, you would have to seek a waiver from the NCAA and show non-athletic reasons – such as perhaps a financial hardship, or a family medical situation – why you should be immediately eligible at the next school.

      Rick

  • Kirk

    Rick,

    I have a son who is a D3 baseball player and is considering a transfer to a D1 as a walk-on. Our assumption is that he would have to sit out the 2 semesters before being eligible for competition. However, if classes are available for summer session is there a chance those classes and the fall session could count as the 12 credit hours? Also, would we need a letter or anything from school he would be leaving from?

    Kirk

    • Kirk,

      Summer school doesn’t count as a semester. If your son has to sit out from competition, he would have to sit out for the entire 2014-15 academic year. However, he may not have to sit out if he wasn’t considered “recruited” to the Div. III school. Here’s the link to a blog I wrote about the definition of a recruited athlete:

      http://www.informedathlete.com/ncaa-rules-definintion-of-a-recruited-athlete

      I frequently consult with athletes and/or parents to help them understand the NCAA eligibility and transfer rules. All consultations are completely confidential. If a consultation is of interest, contact me directly at rick@informedathlete.com.

      As an alternative, you may be interested in our “Informed Athlete’s Guide to Transfers” which can be purchased from the Store of our website. Here’s a link to the Guide to Transfers:

      http://www.informedathlete.com/informed-athletes-transfer-guide

      Rick

  • Angelo

    My son is a sophomore baseball player in a D3 program. I know the basic contact rules but is it possible (without notifying his present coach) to send a prospective D1 coach an “inquiry” email to see if he would even entertain a transfer conversation. (The D1 coach had been previously interested in him.) This is because if he speaks to his present coach about it he would then be “kicked off” the team without even knowing if the D1 coach would accept him. He would then be without any team.

    • Angelo,

      I previously suggested to you that I’d be glad to consult with you about the transfer process, since you had a number of questions. This is one of the topics that we typically talk about during a consultation, regarding the pros and cons of this approach.

      If a consultation is of interest, contact me directly at rick@informedathlete.com.

      Rick

  • david

    Hey Rick,
    My son played a full year of D1 football hos true freshman year and still has his red shirt. Can he tranfer to a community college near our house for a year and then go play at another D1 school and have 3 years of play left?
    Thanks

    • David,

      Yes, as long as he meets the academic requirements for a 4-2-4 transfer to be eligible in the first year at the second Div. I school.

      Rick

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