The NCAA announced a significant change to its redshirt and transfer policies for football players on Wednesday.
Schools will no longer be able to block players who want to transfer, and redshirt players can now appear in up to four games in a season without losing a year of eligibility. The rule changes were decided by the Division I Council in Indianapolis this week.
Previously, a football player who played in a game or fewer lost a year of eligibility but could appeal to get the year back because of injury or other reasons. The new redshirt rule takes effect this season.
The new rule could change how college coaches handle playing time for certain players, especially younger ones.
Usually, a coach will play a true freshman or transfer immediately if it justifies not burning their redshirt. But now, a player could hypothetically play the entire month of September, sit out the rest of the season and play the following season without a lost year of eligibility.
“This change promotes not only fairness for college athletes, but also their health and well-being. Redshirt football student-athletes are more likely to remain engaged with the team, and starters will be less likely to feel pressure to play through injuries,” said council chair Blake James, athletic director at the Miami (Fla.). “Coaches will appreciate the additional flexibility and ability to give younger players an opportunity to participate in limited competition.”
The proposal was tabled in March and was adopted by both FCS and FBS schools alike. Applications for the rule to be applied to other Division I sports is currently being looked at by the council.
Players wanting to transfer previously had to request permission from their school to be released from their scholarship before seeking other options. Now, a player simply has to tell his school he wishes to transfer and the school will have two business days to put their name into a national transfer database. Once the name has been entered into the database, other schools can reach out. The rule goes into effect on Oct. 15.
The old rule was intended to discourage other schools from tampering with student-athletes. The rule changes prevents coaches and administrators from preventing athletes to contact certain schools.
It also adds tampering with a current student-athlete at another school to the list of potential NCAA Level 2 violations, which is considered a significant breach of conduct.