| NEWS Report: NCAA likely to tighten transfer waiver guidelines


The NCAA could make it more difficult for non-graduate transfers to play immediately at their new schools, reported Dan Wolken at USA TODAY.

The NCAA Division I council is set to meet Wednesday and, per Wolken, “is expected to approvepackage of new guidelines that could make it more difficult for college football and basketball players who transfer to receive immediate eligibility via waivers.”

Both football and basketball have seen an uptick in transfers whose waivers were approved, allowing them to play immediately, rather than sit out the usual mandated full season of competition. And while there are some key cases in basketball, it’s become especially apparent in football, where quarterbacks in particular have made headlines. A year ago, Shea Patterson plugged right into the starting lineup at Michigan after his waiver was approved, and this year’s waiver approvals include Justin Fields (Georgia to Ohio State) and Tate Martell (Ohio State to Miami), among others.

The change came in 2018, when “the NCAA implemented a new policy that would allow waivers to be granted on a case-by-case basis by the committee if the athlete could demonstrate ‘documented mitigating circumstances outside of the student-athlete’s control and directly impacts the health, safety or well-being of the student athlete,” Wolken wrote.

But Wolken also noted that the proposed changes — “are not rules but essentially a set of directions for the Committee on Legislative Relief” — tightens up the language, demanding “documented extenuating, extraordinary and mitigating circumstances outside of the student-athlete’s control that directly impacts the health, safety or well-being of the student athlete.”

“The addition of those two words — extenuating and extraordinary — as well as other language throughout the proposal, appears to send the message that the NCAA wants to tighten up on the requirements for waivers,” Wolken wrote.

Attorney Tom Mars, who has represented several athletes in waiver cases, told USA TODAY that the new guidelines would make it more difficult for those seeking waivers in the future.

“Across the board, the proposed new guidelines raise the bar for schools seeking a waiver on behalf of a student-athlete,” Mars said. “Given the dramatic increase in the number of waivers being sought for the 2019-20 season, raising the bar strikes me as a sensible short-term reaction by the Legislative Council.”

Other potential changes include:

*If a player has his scholarship pulled for non-disciplinary reasons, the athletic director at the player’s previous school must provide the NCAA with a written statement testifying that the player could not return to the team. If an athlete can’t provide said documentation, the committee is pushed to decline the waiver request.

*Instead of allowing waivers for “egregious behavior by a staff member or student at the previous institution,” the new guidelines ask for approvals where there is documented “physical assault or abuse, sexually inappropriate behavior, racial abuse, religious discrimination, questioning of sexuality by a staff member or student at the previous institution.”

*When athletes transfer closer to home — within a 100-mile radius — because of a family member’s injury or illness, the NCAA would then require “a treatment plan detailing the student-athlete’s caregiving responsibilities” and paperwork from both schools.

Interestingly enough, the Associated Press reported that the committee approved 68 percent of waiver requests for football, a 2-percent decrease from the four years before, though college sports are 1) seeing more requests overall and 2) players like Patterson, Fields and Martell have increased the visibility for those who have been approved.

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