Potential NCAA Rule Change Could Add Interesting Wrinkle To Penn State Sanctions
A rule that for decades has given coaches power to veto transfer requests from student-athletes could be on the way out.
In an interview with ESPN’s Dana O’Neil, a top NCAA official revealed that a major change to one of the NCAA’s most important transfer rules is in the works.
The rule in question is most popularly known as the "transfer release." If the rule is changed, student athletes may no longer need permission to contact outside schools when looking to transfer.
In theory student athletes can request a transfer at any time, but coaches and administrators have the ability to block those transfers. It doesn't happen much but it does happen.
Former Penn State head coach Joe Paterno denied quarterback Rob Bolden's transfer request in January of 2011. Bolden would eventually transfer in the summer of 2012 but not until after NCAA sanctions made it possible.
“It would be a situation where a kid would provide notice that he’s transferring and wants to talk to these five schools, for example,” says NCAA vice president of academic and membership affairs Kevin Lennon. “Schools can’t say, we’re giving you permission but not to these five schools. It’s in the student’s control more.”
"Some things need to be tweaked," Lennon says, "but the concept is the kid provides notice to the school instead of relying on the school to give permission."
The model would be similar to current Division III rules which include a self-release form that student athletes use to transfer within Division III institutions. The self-release form allows a student athlete to grant an outside school permission to recruit them.
The possible changes wouldn't happen for quite some time according to Lennon. He expects the issue to be discussed formally with NCAA membership in the spring. No changes would be finalized before this time next year.
According to John Infante of the Bylaw Blog, it could take even longer.
"Given all these factors plus the uncertain nature of whether the proposal will be passed at all, a more reasonable timeline would be to have the proposal put into the standard 2014–15 legislative cycle, with possible adoption coming in January or April 2015, and an effective date of August 1, 2015.," Infante writes.
"That leaves plenty of time to get through the override request and voting process before the proposal becomes effective, as well as giving the membership enough of a voice that the odds of passing this proposal are increased."
When the NCAA slapped sanctions on Penn State's football program, athletes could transfer at anytime for more than a year. That "open transfer period" ended at the start of training camp in August.
While the potential rule change now being considered won't have any bearing on Penn State's sanctions, there was a sense of stability once the open transfer period ended.
If the rule were to pass in 2015 as Infante suggests, Penn State would still be slogging through the final years of scholarship restrictions. It's hard to predict where the program might be at that time -- but the possibility of a door left wide open for exiting stage left if times get hard-- is at least something to keep an eye on.