According to this post on the official NCAA website, the league is setting up rules regarding when players will be able to transfer between member schools. This legislation comes with one big caveat, so we’ll get into that first.
The rules - which are effective immediately - are in place to guarantee two huge benefits to student-athletes. The first of these is immediate eligibility. Any player who lets his school know in writing that he’s on the market during what the NCAA is calling the “notification-of-transfer window” will be immediately eligible at his new school, provided this is his first transfer.
The second is that it locks in the player’s scholarship for the remainder of his eligibility or until he completes his degree, provided he doesn’t transfer again or head off to play professional ball somewhere. It appears on its face that players who transfer will not be at risk of not having their scholarships renewed if things aren’t working out. There will, of course, remain the usual soft methods of pushing someone out the door.
There are transfer windows set for each season of sports, but since you’re reading this on a men’s college basketball blog, you’re probably interested in that one. The window opens the day after Selection Sunday and runs for 60 days. For the upcoming season, that means it will run from Monday, March 13 through Friday, May 12. Get your notifications submitted in writing by then or risk losing immediate eligibility and a guaranteed scholarship through graduation.
It should be noted that this is not hard and fast; the NCAA will make exceptions for players who have a head coaching change or have their scholarships reduced or not renewed. We’ve seen coaches pull some pretty vindictive stuff to guys who are attempting to move on in the past, so a layer of protection for kids who find out on May 17th that something big has changed is a good thing. Additionally, waivers for student-athlete wellbeing and circumstances outside a player’s control are also baked into the new rules.
The benefits of this are obvious for coaches, as it will allow them to have a better idea of what their rosters will look like and who they can use to fill holes well in advance of the season. For players, it’s a little more ambiguous regarding how helpful this will be. Guys will have basically two months starting on Selection Sunday to decide whether to stay or go. My gut tells me most coaches already have a good idea who is going to be in the portal in any given offseason, but the occasional late surprise did occasionally pop up.
Somewhere between coaches/programs having complete control of the kids and kids having complete freedom of movement is probably an appropriate middle road. I’m not sure the NCAA has nailed it on the first try here - or that I even trust them to act in good faith when they make new rules - but this seems like a reasonable attempt at setting some boundaries. I’d love to hear anyone else’s thoughts on it.