DeJuan Clayton
Coppin State

How will free one-time transfer impact HBCUs

The NCAA is on the verge of allowing DI football and basketball players to transfer without sitting out for a year.

HBCU football and basketball programs, like most non-Power Five schools these days, rely heavily on transfer players. A new rule by the NCAA could have a big impact on transfers as well as programs.

Multiple reports indicate that the NCAA will allow major college football and basketball players to a one-time transfer without having to sit out a season. The news was first reported by The Athletic.

Traditionally, players have had to weigh the option of sitting out a season when unhappy with their current school or program. This new rule would take that off the table, at least for one time early in their careers.

So how will this effect HBCUs? Well, it could depend on the sport. The current rules make players in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) sit out one year if they choose to transfer to another FBS school. This has allowed FCS schools — which include Division I HBCUs in the MEAC, SWAC and other conferences — to pick up players who want or need a change, but don’t want to wait a year.

For example, a football player sitting the bench at Clemson would have to sit out a season to transfer to the University of South Carolina. He would be able to play right away at South Carolina State. If this new rule takes into effect, that means the student-athlete can still play at the highest level without having to wait. That could hurt the FCS school’s chances of getting a “higher-caliber” player.

Basketball is a little bit different. There is no FBS or FCS, it’s all Division I. And, prior to COVID-19, anyone transferring from one Division I school to another as an undergraduate would have to sit out for a year. This change would mean that a Big 12 transfer could immediately play basketball in the SWAC without having to sit out a year.

The recent addition to the transfer portal combined with the eligibility issues impacted by COVID-19 have made transferring more prominent than ever. There are currently over 1,400 Divsion I basketball players in the transfer portal. A solid percentage of them are among the best in HBCU basketball. With this rule, making it easier, in theory, this could become the new normal. We’ll have to see how it impacts HBCUs. 

How will free one-time transfer impact HBCUs
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