Transfer Rules Advice for NCAA Division I Hockey Athletes

Recently, I spoke with the parents of two NCAA Division I men’s ice hockey athletes about the transfer rules and options that their sons might have. 

In my opinion, men’s ice hockey athletes are in a difficult situation if they desire to transfer to another Division I program. 

Men’s ice hockey is a sport that prohibits an athlete from being immediately eligible as a 4-4 transfer to a Division I hockey program if they are on scholarship at, or were recruited to, their current four-year college.

However, unlike the other Division I sports that have this same restriction – baseball, basketball, and football – a hockey athlete’s opportunities to be immediately eligible by transferring down to a lower NCAA level are very limited. 

In those other sports, those athletes have plenty of opportunities to be eligible if they transfer down to a Division II or III program in their sport. 

In men’s ice hockey, however, there are only 7 Division II programs that sponsor men’s ice hockey.  There are more options for Division III men’s ice hockey programs, but of course, those programs aren’t permitted to offer athletic scholarships.

Our advice?  Try to determine, as best you can, no later than the end of your sophomore year, whether you figure in the coach’s plans for your final two seasons of eligibility. 

That way, you can transfer and still have two seasons of eligibility available after you serve a “year in residence” at your next Division I program.  If you wait until the middle of your junior year to transfer, you’ll then miss the second half of your second year, and the first half of your third year, leaving you with just 1.5 seasons to complete your eligibility. 

 If you’d like to discuss a possible hockey transfer, contact me at 913-766-1235 or by sending an e-mail to

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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