UGA’s Arik Gilbert, other transfers can play in SEC without sitting out a year

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

The SEC and the Big East have eliminated their intraconference transfer policies, allowing athletes to transfer within the leagues without sitting out a season and losing a year of eligibility.

The decisions were made in each conference by university presidents and chancellors. The changes take effect immediately and are in line with the trend throughout college sports to allow more freedom for athletes who switch schools.

The change means transfers like Arik Gilbert (who last played at LSU) and Brandon Turnage (Alabama) can play for the Bulldogs immediately. Other schools see big benefits too, like Alabama, which added former Tennessee linebacker Henry To’o To’o, and Auburn, which gained former LSU quarterback T.J. Finley.

The SEC’s change will more closely align the conference with NCAA rules. One difference with the SEC is it will require athletes who play fall sports — such as football — to declare their intent to transfer by Feb. 1. NCAA rules will require fall and winter sport athletes to notify their schools of a transfer by May 1 and spring sport athletes by July 1.

The SEC's deadlines for winter and spring athletes will be the same as the NCAA's.

A new NCAA policy passed in April allows athletes in all sports to transfer once and be eligible to play immediately. For years, football, basketball, men's hockey and baseball players did not have access to the one-time exception that athletes in other sports had and were forced to sit out a season after transferring as an undergraduate to a school at the same level of NCAA competition.

Many conferences including the ACC, Pac-12 and Big 12 already dropped their restrictions on intraconference transfers.