New NCAA VP of Division I governance wants to take closer look at graduate ‘transfer’ rules

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Depending upon who you ask, the current situation regarding transfers in college basketball is either an “epidemic” that has turned the offseason into a form of free agency or it isn’t much different than what non-athletes experience on an annual basis. The NCAA has made changes in the past, getting rid of waivers with the notable exception of the one that allows graduates to take the floor immediately at the school of their choice.

But as has been reported in the past that could be changing as well, with the NCAA’s new vice president for Division I governance Kevin Lennon seeing the transfer situation as one he would like to take a deeper look at immediately. While some would love to see graduates required to sit a year, that isn’t the only possible change to the current setup.

The proposals include giving schools the ability to restrict where ex-players can go and requiring the athletes to sit out one year before becoming eligible. Undergrads already are required to sit out one year, but the current rules allow players with bachelor’s degrees to transfer to another school and become eligible immediately if they attend grad school.

“If you’re transferring to be in a graduate program, the NCAA wants you to be working in earnest toward that degree rather than just using up your last year of eligibility,” Lennon said during a 40-minute interview last week, noting there are no formal proposals yet.

For some, allowing graduates to move on to another program is a just reward for those who have completed their undergraduate studies in four years but have a season of eligibility remaining. But for others such situations make those athletes “hired guns” that threaten the fabric of college sports.

While requiring graduate students to sit a year, in theory making it even more likely that they’ll complete a graduate degree, could garner support why also allow schools to limit where the athlete will go? While some will cite competitive reasons for doing so, with many conferences making it incredibly difficult (or impossible) for undergrads to transfer within their league, why worry so much about someone who doesn’t want to be a part of your program?

This is all still a long way off, with the Associated Press noting that no formal proposals have been made. But this is a situation worth tracking, as a number of programs have managed to supplement their rosters (or land major contributors) thanks to the graduate student rule.