Proposal would allow athletes to transfer, play immediately if coach leaves or is fired

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Six SEC programs will enter the 2018 season with a new head football coach after five firings and one coach departed to fill one of the vacancies in the league.

All the sudden, players who previously signed letters of intent to play for Kevin Sumlin at Texas A&M, Hugh Freeze at Ole Miss, Dan Mullen at Mississippi State, Bret Bielema at Arkansas, Butch Jones at Tennessee and Jim McElwain at Florida find themselves in a position where the vision and foundation of what they were sold as recruits is different because there is a different person running the program. Based on current NCAA rules, players can either stay and play for the new guy or transfer to another school and sit out a year.

Of course, if an athlete has already used his redshirt, then sitting out another year after transferring means they will have one less year of being able to compete in games. Schools can also block athletes from transferring to play for certain programs by failing to grant those schools “permission to contact” one of their student-athletes.

Coaches will often use the permission-to-contact rule to block an athlete from transferring to programs in their conference or a team they will face on one or more of their future schedules.

Last summer, the NCAA’s Division I Transfer Working Group began pushing for changes to be made to improve the current transfer policy. Proposed changes to the bylaws surrounding transfers are expected to be voted on before the start of the 2018 college football season.

On Tuesday, CBS’ Dennis Dodd reported that there is one particular proposal that is gaining positive attention among NCAA members and provides athletes with more power.

The draft of the proposed bylaws (which can be seen here) would nix the permission-to-contact rule for all transfers. Like the current rule, athletes who have already earned their bachelor’s degree would be immediately eligible to compete at their new school.

But what makes the proposal – which was written by Baylor law professor Jeremy Counseller and Iowa State professor and NCAA council member Tim Day – so significant is that it would allow athletes to become immediately eligible to compete if they transfer after their head coach resigns or is fired. The exception to the immediate eligibility is an athlete who follows their coach to another school.

For example, under this proposal, a Mississippi State player would have been allowed to transfer and play wherever he were wanted after Mullen resigned from MSU. But, if that player decided he wanted to follow Mullen to Florida, he would have to sit out a year before being able to suit up for games.

However, under this proposal, a first-time transfer who has already used his redshirt year and does not meet any of the requirements to become immediately eligible would receive an extra year to compete after sitting out for a year.

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