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NCAA approves transfer rule allowing immediate eligibility

Isaiah Vazquez / NCAA Photos / Getty

The NCAA approved a new transfer rule Wednesday that allows all undergraduate athletes to transfer and play immediately at their new school if they meet academic requirements.

The move is subject to ratification by the Division I board of directors and isn't final until the meetings end Thursday. The rule also needs approval from the NCAA's executive board on Monday, but that's expected to be a formality, ESPN's Heather Dinich reports.

The new rule won't limit the number of times a player can transfer. However, athletes won't be allowed to transfer midyear or play for a second school in the same season. Also, players who transferred during the 2023-24 academic year have immediate eligibility as long as they are academically eligible and meet progress-towards-degree requirements at their new school.

The previous NCAA one-time transfer rule allowed athletes to play immediately at their new school, but a player had to sit out a year or apply for a waiver to play immediately if they transferred a second time.

"With these rule changes, NCAA members continue to prioritize long-term academic success for college athletes who transfer while supporting their opportunity to compete immediately," said Lynda Tealer, deputy athletics director at Florida and chair of the council. "We hope that this practical approach to transfer eligibility requirements will encourage student-athletes to make well-informed decisions about transferring and the impacts such a move could have on their ability to graduate on time in their degree of choice, particularly as it relates to transferable credits."

But some college coaches, including Oregon sideline boss Dan Lanning, aren't fully sold on the new rule.

"One of the questions we have to ask ourselves is, at what point does the degree still matter?" Lanning recently said, according to Dinich. "I think it's going to make it harder and harder if guys become multi-year transfer guys for them to actually have a college degree. If you graduate, there's a lot of times it makes sense. Change schools as many times as you want, if you graduate. But on the same note, if somebody's changing schools three times, I'm wondering what their progress toward a degree really looks like. I think that's something everyone should probably have some awareness of."

The 14-day spring window for college football players to enter the transfer portal opened Tuesday.

On Wednesday, the NCAA's Division I council approved legislation allowing schools to provide more assistance in supporting their athletes' name, image, and likeness activities. The new rule, which still doesn't allow schools to pay athletes directly, is expected to facilitate NIL agreements between players and third parties.

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