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Vote on possible changes to NCAA transfer rules on deck

Expected changes to waiver system may be pushed to January

BOULDER, CO – JANUARY 5, 2020: Colorado’s Tad Boyle watches the clock tick away in the loss to Oregon State during the game in Boulder on January 5, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

While changes are expected in the near future in regards to NCAA transfer rules, the immediate fate of whether those changes will be implemented for the 2020-21 academic year will be decided Wednesday.

The Division I Council meets on Wednesday to vote on the issue, which would end the waiver process for undergraduate transfers and allow all NCAA student-athletes to transfer once without having to sit out a season.

That scenario remains the expected future for NCAA athletics, but it still may not be implemented for 2020-21. Last month, the NCAA transfer working group, which includes Colorado athletic director Rick George, recommended pushing the vote until January to the NCAA Division I Board of Directors.

As CU men’s basketball coach Tad Boyle noted, nothing is final until Wednesday’s decision. Yet the prevailing belief is that athletic departments have enough financial and eligibility matters to sort through due to the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown that implementing sweeping change to transfer rules at this juncture might be bureaucratic overload.

“We won’t know until the vote happens, but I anticipate it being tabled until January,” Boyle said. “Obviously I look at it from a basketball perspective. But if you think about fall sports and if you’re a football coach and you didn’t have spring football, and you’re anticipating kids to be on campus in the summer and they can transfer and be eligible right away, from one standpoint it might be chaos. From that standpoint, it makes sense to table it because these are not normal times for anybody.

“I think that’s the most prudent thing to do. I think we all understand (a change) is coming and we’re preparing for it.”

Several scenarios could emerge Wednesday. The Division I Council could indeed table the vote until January, or they could approve the changes without implementing them until 2021-22. Essentially, the new legislation will eliminate the “sit-out” years currently required, barring a waiver, for all student-athletes in football, baseball, men’s ice hockey, and men’s and women’s basketball. All other sports do not require a sit-out year, and the expected change — whenever it arrives — would finally put all NCAA student-athletes under the same transfer rules. It also will eliminate the waiver system, which has burdened the NCAA with paperwork as transfers have grown far more prevalent while also producing results frequently criticized as inconsistent.