The NCAA’s Division I council has approved two major rule changes regarding players that will drastically alter the landscape of college football. If Dana Holgorsen is smart, he’s already hiring a team of lawyers to find a way to use this to every advantage he can.
The first major rule change is the removal of an institution to block a “student-athlete” from transferring to specific schools. Currently, when a player, like Lamonte McDougle makes the decision to transfer to another school, his current institution may block specific schools from contacting the player. In most cases schools will block all conference schools and any future opponents that would fall within the players eligibility. For McDougle, the Mountaineers blocked all 9 Big 12 schools and all future non-conference teams (Tennessee, Florida State, Missouri, Virginia Tech, etc.).
The new rule, which will take effect in October, will create a “notification-of-transfer” system. A player will inform his head coach of his decision to transfer and within two days the coach must input his name into a national data base. Once entered into this data base, any school will be allowed to contact the player, including in-conference foes. The Catch-22 to this is that conferences may impose their own, more restrictive, transfer rules, but as you saw with the SEC, teams that “abuse” this often lead to rule changes.
As a result, if a team “tampers” with a player under scholarship, that will now be considered a Level II violation (very serious).
Currently, the sit-out year required by NCAA Transfers within FBS schools still applies, but the next rule change may have a bigger impact on that.
Under the new rule change, the NCAA will allow a player up to four games, or one-third of a college football season, in which he may appear on the field and still be eligible for a redshirt. The Mountaineers could have used this rule in 2016 when they were forced to burn Martell Pettaway’s redshirt against Iowa State.
So now incoming freshman have a great deal more power with their current situations. If it so happens, they can appear in an early game or two and even in the bowl game and still maintain four full years of eligibility. That freshman can now also transfer to a different school, using his available redshirt year, and play four years. The power of the athlete now rests with the athlete, where it should have been to begin with.
For West Virginia, these two rules could have a major impact on both recruiting and the way the team uses its players. Will they be an attractive option for a mid-major player who they had their eye on but didn’t fully commit to? Will they get to see some of these exciting freshman and determine a better use for them? The winds of change are blowing ...