NCAA’s Division I Council reviewing emergency transfer portal legislation

Nakos updated headshotby:Pete Nakos04/08/24


The NCAA pivoted on its transfer policy in December when it agreed to terms on a preliminary injunction in the Northern District of West Virginia District Court.

Now the policy could become law. According to an agenda item circulated Monday, first reported by The Athletic, the NCAA Division I Council could adopt emergency legislation for a new transfer rule in its next meeting, slated for April 17-18. The new rule would mirror the policy that has been in place since December.

All undergraduate athletes would be able to transfer and play immediately as long as they meet specific academic requirements. Previously, if an underclassman wished to transfer a second time, the athlete needed the NCAA to grant a waiver to compete immediately. Absent an approved waiver, the athlete had to sit out a year. 

The legislation would not limit the number of times an athlete can transfer. Portal windows would still exist. The NCAA sent out memos to institutions twice this year stating that multi-time transfers could play immediately in 2024-25 without securing a waiver. Similar to the current bylaws, athletes would not be able to transfer mid-year and play for a new school in the same athletic season.

News of new portal legislation is not a surprise. The NCAA agreeing to the injunction was a sign the governing body saw the writing on the wall. Then in January, the U.S. Department of Justice signed on to the lawsuit along with Minnesota, Mississippi, Virginia and the District of Columbia.

According to the federal lawsuit, the NCAA’s rule “unjustifiably restrains the ability of these college athletes to engage in the market for their labor as NCAA Division I college athletes,” the complaint states. By making it daunting to transfer twice, the rule also denies athletes educational opportunities, per the Department of Justice release.

If the Division I Council adopts the emergency legislation later this month, the NCAA will be taking steps to move past the litigation rather than spending major dollars to fight the case in court.

The new NCAA transfer rules would only give more power to athletes, who would be able to freely transfer and play as long as they met academic requirements.

“This case would never have come to pass had many players not been sidelined by the NCAA’s arbitrary and unfair rule,” Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said in a statement in January. “We’re fighting for better competition and long-term change.”