Report: Big Ten ADs supporting one-time transfer exemption proposal

Athletic directors in the Big Ten are backing a proposal that would allow athletes to transfer schools without having to sit out a year. (Jeffrey Brown/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images)

Athletic directors in the Big Ten Conference are backing a proposal that would grant athletes in all sports a one-time transfer exemption, something that would allow athletes to transfer between Division I schools without sitting out a year, according to ESPN

The league introduced the proposal last year, but the NCAA implemented a moratorium on transfer-related proposals through the end of the 2020 legislative cycle, according to ESPN. The hope, per the report, is to vote on the legislation at the 2021 NCAA convention.

“I'm supportive of [the one-time exemption],” Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said, via ESPN. “I think it was almost unanimous. At the end of the day, we need to provide those kids in those five sports the same opportunities as those in the other sports have. At the end of the day, everybody else has choice. Why can't they have a choice?”

Under the current system, athletes must miss one year of competition upon transferring to a different Division I school unless they have graduated from their original university or are granted a waiver from the NCAA. A one-time transfer exemption is allowed already in most NCAA sports, except for football, men’s and women’s basketball, baseball and men’s ice hockey. Should the proposal pass, those five sports would simply be allowed to operate like every other.

Though some claim that the change would alter the transfer system to look more like free agency in professional sports, both Smith and other Big Ten athletic directors said they are simply trying to “force a discussion” on the issue.

It has been talked about for years without any progress, Smith said, and it’s finally time for people “to stand up on their positions.”

“What we're trying to do is force the issue so we can get all of Division I, the Power 5, to go on record and say, ‘Where are you at on this thing?’” one Big Ten athletic director told ESPN. “Can we do it in a way that allows us to maintain the values we have in college athletics, and not have it turn into total free agency? We have to come together on it.”

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