The NCAA Division I Council has officially adopted a measure that will allow athletes in all sports to transfer once without sitting a season, the NCAA announced Thursday. The measure will become NCAA rule if it is ratified by the Division I Board of Directors, which next meets on April 28.
“Allowing student-athletes a one-time opportunity to transfer and compete immediately provides a uniform, equitable and understandable approach that benefits all student-athletes,” said Division I Council vice chairman Jon Steinbrecher, commissioner of the MAC. “The decision is consistent with Division I’s goal of modernizing its rules to prioritize student-athlete opportunity and choice.”
The measure has long been expected to pass and change the landscape of collegiate athletics, and college basketball players have already flocked to the transfer portal in record numbers in anticipation of the change. As of Wednesday, there were more than 1,400 Division I men’s basketball players in the transfer portal.
The rule is expected to have a major impact on college football football as well, ushering in what some have referred to as “free agency” in the sport. Though transferring is already prevalent in college football, it is expected to become even more common among athletes seeking more playing time without the hassle of missing a full season.
Athletes in most Division I sports have not been subject to the rule requiring transfers to sit a season. The rule has applied only to athletes in football, baseball, men’s ice hockey and men’s or women’s basketball, which are the NCAA’s most popular sports.
Athletes in fall/winter sports like, football and basketball, would face a May 1 deadline to enter the transfer portal. Spring athletes would have a July 1 deadline in order to gain immediate eligibility.