The annual NCAA Convention was recently held in San Antonio The following is a summary of the official rule changes or resolutions in each Division that will have the most direct impact on student-athletes.

NCAA Division I Changes

Transfer Waiver Guidelines Change For 4-4-4 transfer athletes who transfer a second time to a Division I university as an undergraduate:

When an athlete transfers to their third university (4-4-4 transfer) and wants to be eligible in their first year, they can no longer use the following arguments in a waiver application:

  • No Participation Opportunity
  • Financial Hardship
  • Misinformation From a Staff Member

The NCAA Division I Council voted unanimously that going forward, each waiver request will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

One of the following criteria must be satisfied to receive a waiver:

  • A demonstrated physical injury or illness or mental health condition that necessitated the student’s transfer (supporting documentation, care plans and proximity of the student’s support system will be considered), or
  • Exigent circumstances that clearly necessitate a student-athlete’s immediate departure from the previous school (e.g., physical assault or abuse, sexual assault) unrelated to the student-athlete’s athletics participation.”

Transfer Exceptions are not the same as Transfer Waivers and will still be available.

The most common Transfer Exception for a 4-4-4 transfer to be eligible in their first year at a Division I university is the Non-Scholarship or Non-Recruited Transfer Exception.

Student-athletes who qualify to use one of the Transfer Exceptions (other than the One-Time Transfer Exception), will now be allowed to enter the Transfer Portal at any time instead of having to wait for the Transfer Portal schedule for their sport.

Softball Athletes – Midyear Transfer Rule Change

A midyear transfer to a Division I softball program – whether from a two-year or four-year college – will no longer be immediately eligible in their first softball season unless they are transferring as a postgraduate student.

This rule takes effect on August 1 of this year and will impact the 2024 softball season.

NCAA Division II

Effective August 1, 2023, NCAA Division II Football student-athletes will be allowed to participate in up to three games during their initial year of enrollment at a Division II institution without being charged with one of their four seasons of playing eligibility.

In addition, Division II football teams will be permitted to scrimmage against another four-year college team as one of the three permissible scrimmage sessions that are allowed during Spring practice.

Student-athletes participating in this scrimmage will not trigger the use of a season of playing eligibility AS LONG AS the athlete was academically eligible during the preceding Fall term.

NCAA Division III

A resolution was approved (but not an actual rule change at this time) directing Division III governing committees to work with member schools and conferences to “…establish a hardship waiver process specific for mental health…”

The intention of this resolution is to establish a hardship waiver process for Mental Health that is separate from that of a Physical Injury Waiver.

The formal resolution also noted that the requirement for a Mental Health Hardship Waiver should allow for appropriate flexibility in supporting documentation since individuals “…suffering with a mental health condition often do not seek immediate support.”

Do You Have Questions?

If you have questions about these changes or any other questions about specific issues that impact you or your athlete regarding college athletics eligibility, scholarships, waivers or transfers, we invite you to schedule a confidential consult by calling us at 913-766-1235 or sending an email to rick@informedathlete.com.

The NCAA Division I is no longer accepting the argument of “No Participation Opportunity” as the basis for waiver relief. This means an athlete will be required to sit out their first year at a new university if they can’t benefit from a Transfer Exception.

Limited waiver opportunities may still be available. However, robust documentation of the circumstances will be required.

Schedule a Waivers and Appeals Consult online if you have questions and want to discuss your athlete’s situation and possible opportunities for a transfer exception.

Only one Division I Fall sports still has days remaining in their standard “midyear” Transfer Portal Window:

  • FBS Football: Through Jan. 18

Exceptions:

There is an exception for Division I student-athletes who will be transferring as a postgraduate student.

There is also a 30-day Transfer Window available for Division I student-athletes immediately following their coach being fired or leaving to take another job.

Transfer Windows for Division I student-athletes who participate in Winter sports will open beginning in late February or early March depending upon the sport.

Also, if you’re an NCAA Division II or III athlete who’s hoping to transfer to a Division I program, you can enter the Transfer Portal whenever you’re ready to do so. Keep in mind that you will probably be removed from your current team when you do that.

Schedule a confidential consultation online for the steps, rules and academic requirements to be eligible as a transferring student-athlete, or by calling us at 913-766-1235

We’ve consulted recently with families regarding situations in which their athlete has been dismissed or suspended from a team with little to no explanation as to why they were removed from their team.

While these situations are certainly unfortunate and appear unfair, decisions as to who a coach keeps on their roster are left to the discretion of the coach by most athletic directors. If a coach removes an athlete from their team, the athlete may have no choice but to transfer to another school.

However, if an athlete is receiving an athletic scholarship, the NCAA rules limit the ability of a coach or athletic department to cancel the scholarship in the middle of the academic year.

Mid-year cancellation of a scholarship is only possible if an athlete:

  • Is ruled ineligible for competition,
  • Provides fraudulent information on an application, letter of intent, or financial aid agreement,
  • Engages in serious misconduct that rises to the level of being disciplined by the university’s regular student disciplinary board,
  • Voluntarily quits their team,
  • Violates an athletic department or team rule or policy.

Also, an NCAA Division I athlete entering the Transfer Portal could possibly lose their scholarship at midyear.

My advice to athletes and parents:

Review very carefully any athletic department or university rules and policies that spell out the non-athletic reasons that can be cited for the cancellation of an athletic scholarship.

If your athlete is concerned about their scholarship being taken away mid-year, schedule a confidential scholarship consultation online with me to discuss the situation and options your athlete may have.

That’s a question I’m frequently asked. It can be surprising how many times some athletes transfer from one school to another.

When an athlete can’t use the One-Time Transfer Exception to be immediately eligible at a new school, how are they able to be eligible as a multiple time transfer?

While we don’t know the specific circumstances of each athlete’s situation that you might hear or read about, here are some possible explanations as to how they may be able to transfer multiple times and not be required to serve a “year in residence” at their new university.

  • Second transfer could be the use of the Non-Scholarship Transfer Exception.
  • Second (or third) transfer could be using the “No Participation Opportunity” Waiver to be eligible at the next college.
  • 2nd or 3rd transfer could be transferring as a grad student and getting a waiver to be eligible as a grad transfer if they are pursuing a degree that wasn’t offered at their previous college.
  • Any of the above could also have been a possible option AFTER a 4-2-4 transfer from the first four-year college to a JUCO then back to another four-year college and then possibly using any of the options listed above.

Do You Need Advice?

If your athlete is thinking about a transfer, whether from one four-year college to another or from a junior college, we can provide a confidential consultation to explain the steps, rules and academic requirements to be eligible at the new college. Schedule a confidential Transfer Consultation online, contact us at rick@informedathlete.com or call our office at 913-766-1235.

Transferring to another school at any time of the year has its challenges. However, mid-year transfers to a new university can be especially difficult because a student-athlete often has a short window of time to find a new school and then enroll for classes that start in January.

In addition:

  • There can be specific rules that determine whether a mid-year transfer athlete will have immediate eligibility.
  • There are also specific academic requirements that the student-athlete must satisfy in the Fall to order to be eligible to compete in the Spring.

Before your student-athlete takes action, make sure they know where they stand and what options they have so they don’t make mistakes that could cause them to lose eligibility or add a financial burden to the family.

  • As an example, an NCAA Division I student-athlete entering the Transfer Portal could possibly lose their scholarship at mid-year.
  • There are also certain sports in which a mid-year transfer athlete can’t be eligible to compete in the Spring even if they satisfy all of the academic requirements to be eligible at the next university.

Do you have questions?

If your or your student-athlete has questions and needs advice on how to successfully navigate through a mid-year transfer, schedule a confidential Transfer Consult session online, send an email to rick@informedathlete.com or call 913-766-1235

We recently consulted with a student-athlete who transferred to an NCAA Division II university only to learn that she would not be academically eligible for competition even though she earned her Associates Degree at her junior college during the summer.

She thought that the completion of her Associates Degree at the two-year college was all that she needed to be eligible as a transfer and did not know that there are also multiple NCAA academic requirements that also need to be satisfied.

In this situation, this athlete wasn’t informed that she was also required to earn at least 9 credit hours of transferable degree credit during her last semester at the junior college. Because she didn’t have enough academic credit hours that were accepted as transfer credit, she wasn’t eligible to compete for the Division II university.

In fact, any NCAA Division II athlete – even a continuing student-athlete at their same university or one transferring from another four-year college – must earn at least 9 credit hours (or 8 hours if their college is on the quarter system) in the preceding term of full-time attendance to be eligible the following term. For a transfer athlete, those credit hours must be acceptable for transfer credit at the college the athlete is transferring to.

If you are have questions about your student-athlete’s situation, we can help.

Schedule a confidential Eligibility Consult online, call us at 913-766-1235 or send an email to rick@informedathlete.com

NCAA Division I Transfer Portal Windows for Fall sport athletes:

  • Cross Country: Nov. 13 through Dec. 27
  • Field Hockey: Nov. 7 through Dec. 21
  • FBS Football: Dec. 5 through Jan. 18
  • FCS Football: Nov. 21 through Jan. 4
  • Men’s Soccer: Nov. 15 through Dec. 29
  • Women’s Soccer: Nov. 8 through Dec. 22
  • Women’s Volleyball: Nov. 28 through Jan. 11
  • Men’s Water Polo: Nov. 21 through Jan. 4

Also, the Division I Fall Transfer Window for Spring Sport athletes opens on December 1 and closes on December 15. This is for Spring Sport athletes who are planning to enroll at another Division I university this Spring or in the Fall 2023 semester.

A 30-day Transfer Window is also available for Division I student-athletes immediately following their coach being fired or leaving to take another job.

If you’re interested in a confidential consultation to review the steps, rules and academic requirements to be eligible as a transferring athlete, you can schedule a Transfer Consult online or can call 913-766-1235 for more information.

If your athlete’s primary reason for considering a Transfer from their current four-year college to a Division I university is to receive an athletic scholarship, I encourage them to think twice.

I believe that it will be more difficult for a student-athlete doing a 4-4 transfer (one four-year college to another) to receive an athletic scholarship from a Division I program.

The reason is because of the very strict limitations placed on Division I coaches under these new Transfer rules as to when they can cancel or not renew an athletic scholarship that is provided to a 4-4 transfer.

Note that under these new rules:

The ONLY way that a Division I coach will be permitted to cancel or not renew an athletic scholarship granted to a transfer from another four-year college is if the athlete transfers yet again to another college OR if the athlete loses their amateur athletic status.

Otherwise:

The Division I university is required to continue the athlete on their athletic scholarship until the athlete’s undergraduate graduation or until the completion of their athletic eligibility, whichever comes first – EVEN if the athlete chooses to quit their team!

Put yourself in the shoes of a Division I coach:

Would you be willing to invest a valuable athletic scholarship in an athlete who transfers to your program while knowing that your program would still need to continue providing that scholarship (and counting it against your team’s scholarship limit) even if the athlete chooses to quit the team?

Do You Need Advice?

For a private discussion of all the factors your student-athlete should consider about a possible transfer, schedule a confidential Transfer Consultation online or call 913-766-1235.

The NCAA Division I Board of Directors recently took action that they believe will reduce the seemingly constant/continuous flow of athletes entering the Transfer Portal that we’ve seen over the past year. They’re doing this by restricting Division I athletes to Transfer Portal “Windows.”

As a result, NCAA Division I athletes who want to transfer to another university will ONLY be allowed to enter the Transfer Portal during limited windows of time.

These Transfer Portal “Windows” generally are:

For Fall Sport Athletes – a 45-day period beginning the day after championship selections are made for that sport, or May 1-15.

For Winter Sport Athletes – a 60-day period beginning the day after championship selections are made for that sport.

For Spring Sport Athletes – December 1-15, or a 45-day period beginning the day after championship selections are made for that sport.

Exceptions to the “Windows” for entering the Transfer Portal will be available for Division I athletes who:

  • Have a change of head coach
  • Have their athletic scholarship reduced, cancelled, or not renewed (for limited reasons)
  • Can use a Transfer Exception other than the One-Time Transfer Exception to be eligible for competition in their first year at their new university (such as the Non-scholarship or Discontinued Sport Transfer Exceptions)

Other Situations:

  • A current Division I Spring sport athlete who is planning to transfer to another Division I program to be eligible this coming Spring season (not available for baseball or basketball transfers) is NOT required to wait until December to enter the Transfer Portal. This is the last “class” of athletes who are not subject to the Transfer Portal Windows noted above.
  • A current Division I student-athlete who is planning to transfer AWAY from Division I (e.g., Division II, III or NAIA) WILL still be restricted to the Windows noted above to enter the Transfer Portal.
  • However, student-athletes currently enrolled at an institution OTHER THAN Division I will NOT be restricted to entering the Transfer Portal during these windows (but will need to be aware of the Transfer rules within their own Division, such as the June 15 deadline for NCAA Division II athletes).

If you think the new Transfer Portal Window rules and exceptions are confusing, here are a couple of comments I’ve seen on social media from some of my Division I compliance friends at various universities:

  • “Proposal 2022-20 takes the lead for the worst legislation adopted.”
  • “I can honestly say this is the most frustrating NCAA rule change rollout that I have ever encountered.”

Also, I think it’s worth noting that a Q&A document that the NCAA is developing (and updating weekly) for Division I compliance administrators is now 6 pages long.

Are you Confused and Need Advice?

For assistance in navigating all the steps and rules to successfully transfer to an NCAA university, schedule a confidential Transfer Consult online to review the transfer rules and academic requirements that will apply to your student-athlete. You can also contact us by sending an email to rick@informedathlete.com or by calling 913-766-1235.