Change is happening fast in NCAA sports

Beginning in the spring of 2021, the NCAA instituted a new rule that allows any eligible student-athlete competing in Division I athletics a one-time exception to transfer to another school and be immediately eligible. While that rule will primarily affect current DI athletes, early on it appears that it may have a trickle-down impact on high school recruits as well. For an understanding of that rule, and how it may affect your recruiting, read on…

What Is The One-Time Transfer Rule?

The NCAA ratified what has become known as the “One-Time Transfer Rule” in April 2021. That rule, as the name implies, basically allows any Division I athlete to transfer once and be immediately eligible at their new schools after they do so. The rule was heralded by many, as it allows student-athletes the flexibility to transfer to another school without penalty or wait for eligibility. Previously, if a DI athlete wanted to transfer to another school, they were required to sit out for a year and forgo a year of eligibility before they could compete at their new school. Though there were exceptions, that one-year wait for eligibility and loss of one year of playing time was generally considered to be a detriment to athletes seeking to transfer for whatever reasons.

The new rule still has certain criteria that must be met. Further, athletes who have already transferred once may not be eligible to do so again and may have to sit out a year before being eligible. Additional details about the one-time transfer rule are available here.

How Could The One-Time Transfer Rule Affect My Recruiting?

Right now, it’s hard to say with any concrete evidence how the one-time transfer rule will affect high school recruiting. As this article was written (January of 2022) the new rule had been in place for less than a year and the majority of the transfers have taken place among football and basketball players.

However, early evidence shows college football coaches are looking more to the transfer portal to fill out their rosters instead of pursuing high school recruits, especially at the quarterback position. According to an article in The Athletic, many mid-level quarterback recruits (ranked three-stars or below) are receiving fewer if any scholarship offers. In fact, in the 2022 class, roughly 35% fewer high school quarterbacks are signed to FBS schools (NCAA Division I Football Bowl Series) than there were five years ago.

It seems, early on at least, that college coaches are emphasizing transfers owing to the fact that the players are older, more experienced, and, compared to a high school recruit, are a known quantity that can step in and play immediately. And, now that transferring for current college athletes is easier than ever, coaches have more choices than ever to fill key positions. That, for college football coaches, is a low-risk, high reward proposition that’s also free of the constraints of the recruiting process.

Can The One-Time Transfer Rule Help My Recruiting?

Again, it’s still too early in the process to see any definitive evidence. However, it looks like the new transfer rule will offer high school recruits some advantages. The first of those is that you’ll be able to quickly see how a coach at a particular school is filling their roster at your position. If a program is bringing in more transfers than high school recruits, then it’s likely landing a scholarship, or even a roster spot, at that school could be more difficult. However, if nothing else, that knowledge can help you find the school and program that’s right for you.

In addition, the transparency of the transfer process can give you a better idea of a coach’s intentions during the recruiting process. More specifically, if a coach is telling you how valued you are and how much you’ll play at their school, but they’re also pursuing other players at your position via transfer, then you might consider other schools. On the other hand, knowing that you’ll be able to easily transfer should you feel deceived or passed over once you’re on campus might also lead more coaches to be more honest in their recruiting approach.

Finally, remember that, while the one-time transfer rule may not affect every sport the same, your experience as a recruit will be unique to you. And though coaches may be chasing more players via transfer today, that may not be the case tomorrow. The only constant will be change, but the early effects of the new transfer rule are no reason to change your approach to earning a college scholarship.

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