The NCAA has adjusted some of the guidelines used to determine when waivers can be granted to athletes seeking immediate eligibility when they switch schools.
The adjustments approved by the Division I council Wednesday will require schools requesting a waiver for an incoming transfer to provide more documentation to support a case and more detailed verification of an athlete’s claims about their original school.
The move comes 14 months after the NCAA changed the waiver process to clear the way for immediate eligibility for all approved requests. The high-profile case involving quarterback Justin Fields from Georgia to Ohio State was decided in favor of the player, but the overall rate of approval of waiver requests in the past year has been about the same as previous years.
The changes affect guidelines for cases involving claims of athletes being run off a team by a coach and victims of egregious behavior by the original school. Also, guidelines were adjusted in cases where athletes transfer to be closer to an ill or injured immediate family member and because of an injury or illness to the athlete.
Former Georgia tight end Luke Ford, whose primary request for transfer was to be closer to an ailing grandfather, had his appeal for immediate eligibility at Illinois denied.
The waiver process affects college football and basketball players more often because those sports do not allow students to transfer without having to sit out a season at the new school. The so-called year-in-residence rule was debated and examined anew by college sports administrators in 2017 and ’18, but a package of transfer rules reforms passed last year by the NCAA — separate from the directive that changed the waiver process — did not change existing bylaws.
Changing the rules to allow the opportunity for more athletes to become immediately eligible seemed like a compromise move, but it has only led to more complaints about how the waivers are granted.
The latest adjustment — to four of the 13 guidelines — could lead to fewer requests being granted as it seems to raise the bar on what is required by a school to make a case for immediate eligibility for an athlete. In a release, the NCAA said the adjustments were intended to “prompt more involvement from athletics directors and give guidance to members as they submit waivers.”
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