Changes could be coming to the college football transfer rules. The NCAA could enable one-time transfer exemptions for all sports as soon as April.
There have been rumblings of changes to the NCAA transfer policy for some time. Those ideas have reemerged recently in the national discourse. The Big Ten got things rolling in earnest a few weeks ago by announcing their support of a “one-time transfer exemption.” That policy, if enacted, would allow athletes competing in any sport to transfer to another school without being forced to sit out a year as a penalty.
A more open transfer policy is already in place in all Division 1 sports with five notable exceptions: football, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, baseball and men’s ice hockey. This new proposal would bring those five spots into alignment with the rest of collegiate athletics.
The ACC quickly followed suit:
— Adam Rittenberg (@ESPNRittenberg) February 17, 2020
With two Power 5 conferences in support of a revised policy, the NCAA stepped in. They provided a few clarifications to the proposals, announcing potential conditions for a new rule. This proposal, created by a working group, could be enacted as quickly as April of this year. If that were to be the case, the rule would be in place before the beginning of the 2020 football season.
Here's the actual language from the NCAA re: potential new transfer policies.
— The Roost (@AtTheRoost) February 18, 2020
If the transfer rules were indeed relaxed, some language could be added to the rules to account for the fluctuation in players from school to school. The biggest change would revolve around the size of annual signing classes, currently capped at 25 players per year. Transfers currently count against that number.
The NCAA will vote in April to change the legislation regarding the limit of 25 “initial counters.” New rule would make it 50 total players over two years and no more than 30 in a single year.
— Bryan Fischer (@BryanDFischer) February 12, 2020
So how does this impact Rice football?
The short answer is I’m not sure. I’m cognizant of the fears that Power 5 programs will all of a sudden swoop in and steal away all of the top talent from Group of 5 programs.
But let’s not pretend that’s not a threat as things currently stand. And the mobility isn’t limited upward. Rice signed six graduate transfers last year and three more this year, the majority of which came from Power 5 schools. They’ve not taken many regular transfers under head coach Mike Bloomgren, instead, they’ve relying on the JUCO and grad transfer markets.
Rice has seen several players enter the Transfer Portal this offseason. It’s reasonable to believe that a more lax transfer policy would see that number increase. But the doom and gloom preached by some seems a tad excessive. A capable starter at a program like Rice would have to weigh the trade-offs of a Rice degree and playing time with perhaps a lesser role at another institution, albeit one with a bigger football brand.
Beyond that, Rice will be playing by the same rules as everyone else. They’ll have just as much access to talent relative to their peers in Conference USA and the Group of 5. The gap between the bigger state schools is sizable already. I don’t see more transfers tipping the playing field by a noticeable margin.
I’m curious to hear what you think. Do you support these potential changes? How would you propose such a policy were implemented?
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