ATHENS — The NCAA Transfer Working Group looks to open the door for football transfers to gain immediate eligibility.
“The current system is unsustainable, (and) working group members believe it’s time to bring our transfer rules more in line with today’s college landscape,” Mid-American Conference commissioner Jon Steinbrecher, the chair of the working group, said in an NCAA article.
“This concept provides a uniform approach that is understandable, predictable and objective. Most importantly, it benefits students.”
Per the proposal:
The working group concept would change waiver criteria to allow approvals for first-time four-year transfers in all sports to compete immediately if they:
- Receive a transfer release from their previous school.
- Leave their previous school academically eligible.
- Maintain their academic progress at the new school.
- Leave under no disciplinary suspension.
The proposal could be in place by the 2020-21 academic year.
Of course, it’s all too late for former Georgia tight end Luke Ford.
Ford, who spent the 2018 season with the Bulldogs, lost his bid for a waiver last summer that would have allowed him to play for Illinois during the 2019 season.
My Grandpa just passed on to a better place in heaven. Love you Papa! I’m sorry you didn’t get to see me play in person, my heart is devastated… Rest in Paradise 🌴❤️
— L U K E F O R D🇺🇸 (@lukeredx97) February 19, 2020
Ford lost his appeal following the 2018 season despite being represented by high-profile attorney Thomas Mars.
Mars, of course, keyed Justin Fields’ successful bid for immediate eligibility at Ohio State last season after he transferred from Georgia.
The NCAA Transfer Working Group’s proposal for football, basketball, baseball and hockey would be the same as the transfer legislation already in existence for other sports.
The Division I Council appointed the group last fall, well aware that there could be unintended consequences.
“We know that challenges will exist with this concept, particularly as it relates to other coaches potentially tampering with currently enrolled student-athletes,” Steinbrecher said in the NCAA.org story.
“The working group will continue to examine this, as well as any potential financial aid and academic impacts, so the Council can make a fully informed decision.”
ACC Network analyst and former Georgia football coach Mark Richt is among those who have concerns.
I know, I have an idea. You recruit and develop players and when I think they’re good enough I will poach them from your roster! Welcome to what the new normal will look like in college football!
— Mark Richt (@MarkRicht) February 18, 2020
ESPN analyst and Georgia football legend David Pollack expressed frustration with the inconsistency of the current policy.
“Fields versus Luke Ford, guys that were at Georgia, what determines who gets it (immediate eligibility)?” Pollack said to DawgNation last summer. “Somebody’s family is sick (Ford’s grandfather), or somebody has a reason to go back home and they get a ‘no,’ and somebody else that doesn’t really have a reason gets a ‘yes.’ That drives you nuts for the kids.
“Some people get waivers, some people don’t, and it makes absolutely no sense.”
Current Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart has been relatively liberal in his view of transfers and the invent of the NCAA transfer portal.
Smart said his priority is that the NCAA do what’s best for the student-athletes.
“Kids have always been able to go places, change and make decisions. Roster management hasn’t changed from the standpoint of, we’ve been working off 85, working off medical (redshirts),” Smart said last year. “There’s been slight changes to the number of guys you can sign early, there’s been a slight increase of players who have come out early over time.
“As we continue to grow, it’s something we’ll deal with. I don’t think there’s a major concern there. You’ve got 85 scholarships, you operate at your 85. NFL teams do it with less than that so I’m not that concerned about roster management as I am making sure what’s best for the student athlete is what we do.”