NCAA to discuss immediate eligibility for transfers

The NCAA’s Division I Transfer Working Group announced potential changes to transfer rules Tuesday.

Among the topics discussed was a referral to the NCAA’s Committee of Academics that proposed “one-time immediate eligibility” for transfers who meet a set of academic standards. The changes would not be voted on until after the 2017-18 legislative cycle.

Basketball – a sport that requires undergraduate transfers to sit an entire year – would likely be affected by the proposed change because of the several hundred yearly transfers on the men’s side of the game.

The Colonials men’s team has been heavily supported by the arrivals of incoming transfers. Impact players, including Isaiah Armwood, Maurice Creek, Alex Mitola and Tyler Cavanaugh have left their mark at GW after starting their college careers at other universities.

Cavanaugh, who signed with the Atlanta Hawks earlier this summer, said sitting out for a year made him into the player he is today, but the proposed change could hurt the dynamic of the college game.

“I do believe this will be good for players who are dealing with a coaching change or a bad situation,” Cavanaugh said. “This could also be very detrimental to the college game, as it would become like free agency in the NBA and would give players way more control.”

Justin Moore, the director of athletics communication and the spokesman for men’s basketball, declined to comment on whether or not the program favors the proposed changes, citing that if the rule was passed then “it’s more likely it would be worth discussing.”

Under head coach Maurice Joseph, who was a transfer himself in 2007, GW’s current roster features five transfers, including Patrick Steeves, who was immediately eligible last year because he had already graduated from Harvard.

Next season, junior forward DJ Williams will be one of a handful of Colonials over the past three years that is expected to make a large impact in Foggy Bottom after being forced to sit an entire season.

With the proposed rules, 2016-17 starting point guard Jaren Sina could have played for the 28-10 NIT champion team the year prior.

The women’s basketball roster would also be altered by such a change. Currently, head coach Jennifer Rizzotti’s squad holds two players – forwards Olivia Gumbs and Sarah Overcash – who are sitting the 2017-18 season because they transferred to GW after their freshman year.

A spokesman for women’s basketball did not respond to a request to comment.

More than 50 college coaches have come out against the proposed rule change, arguing that it will increase transfer poaching that would not be beneficial for either the athletes or the teams.

Other coaches, like Massachusetts women’s basketball head coach – and Atlantic 10 competitor – Tory Verdi, favor the proposal.

“They’re going to transfer regardless. If they’re going to transfer, why should they have to sit out a year,” Verdi told the Daily Hampshire Gazette. “It’s a tough transition. Getting to play right away would be a really good thing.”

Along with the eligibility proposal, the document also included possible changes to contact restrictions, graduate student aid and penalties associated with tampering with potential transfers.

University presidents, athletics administrators, faculty and coaches will have until Sept. 22 to respond to a survey with their opinions on the proposals. The working group will meet again to asses feedback at its next meeting in October.

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