With a record number of players in the college football transfer portal, the NCAA has made a move to limit what some see as an out-of-control movement of student-athletes. Specifically, the recent amendment to transfer regulations impacts second-time transfers and their ability to play immediately for their new program.
NCAA Strengthens College Football Transfer Portal Eligibility Waiver Regulations
From the 2023-2024 school year, it will be harder for student-athletes to secure immediate eligibility at their new program. The NCAA’s Division I council announced that players looking to utilize the college football transfer portal for the second time will only be able to secure an immediate eligibility waiver as a result of a very specific set of circumstances.
To receive an immediate eligibility waiver as a second-time transfer under the new regulation, a student-athlete — including college football players — must be able to prove that a physical injury, illness, or mental health condition meant that they needed to transfer schools.
Under the new regulation, the NCAA will take supporting documentation, care plans, and proximity of the student’s support system into consideration of their verdict on eligibility waivers.
Additionally, a student-athlete can expect to receive an eligibility waiver under what the NCAA deems as “exigent circumstances.” For the purposes of securing a waiver, these include physical or sexual abuse, which means the college football player — or any student-athlete — needs to immediately transfer away from that environment.
As a result of the new regulation, the NCAA made it clear that all other guidelines will no longer be used for waiver requests. As part of the vote to bring the new eligibility waiver rules into force from the 2023-2024 school year, the NCAA Division I council agreed that athletic reasons such as lack of playing time and positional preference were not sufficient to receive a waiver.
Eligibility waivers have been a contentious issue in college football for a number of years. While waivers for high-profile players such as quarterbacks like Justin Fields were routinely handed out, the cases of tight end Luke Ford and Brock Hoffman shined a light on the inequalities of the transfer waiver system.
Those cases helped change the way the college football transfer portal system operated. In April 2021, the NCAA abolished the regulation that required a transferring student-athlete to sit for a year at their new program, meaning they were immediately eligible to play in the season following their transfer.
As that regulation opened the floodgates for CFB transfers, the NCAA created the college football transfer portal, designed to give a specific window for players to state their intention to seek a transfer. Under those rules, the first ever college football transfer window opened on Dec. 5, 2022, and remains open until Jan. 18, 2023.
However, with a record number of student-athletes seeking to find a new home since the first windows opened, the new NCAA regulation will seek to regain a stranglehold on student-athletes. Several coaches have been outspoken in their criticism of the college football transfer portal — alongside Name, Image, and Likeness regulation — that has shaken up college football.
Given that the new NCAA regulation is only applicable to second-time transfers, it remains to be seen how much of an impact it will have on overall transfer portal numbers. Players looking to transfer for the first time will still be immediately eligible to play for their new program — as per the April 2021 abolition.