NEW YORK (AP) — The Southeastern Conference eliminated their intraconference transfer policy Thursday, allowing athletes to transfer within the league without losing a year of eligibility.
The decision was made by university presidents and chancellors. The changes will take effect immediately and are in line with the trend throughout college sports to allow more freedom for athletes who switch schools.
“This is an important measure to further support student-athletes throughout the Southeastern Conference,” said SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey. “While maintaining the expectation that coaches and others avoid improper recruiting, this change will ensure that student-athletes who enroll at an SEC member institution will enjoy the flexibility afforded to other student-athletes across the nation.”
The SEC’s change will more closely align the conference with NCAA rules. One difference with the SEC is it will require athletes who play fall sports — such as football — to declare their intent to transfer by Feb. 1. NCAA rules will require fall and winter sport athletes to notify their schools of a transfer by May 1 and spring sport athletes by July 1.
The SEC’s deadlines for winter and spring athletes will be the same as the NCAA’s.
The SEC’s decision means several high-profile football players will be immediately eligible in 2021 after transferring, including former Tennessee linebacker Henry To’o To’o at Alabama, former LSU tight end Arik Gilbert at Georgia and former LSU quarterback T.J. Finley at Auburn.
A new NCAA policy passed in April allows athletes in all sports to transfer once and be eligible to play immediately. For years, football, basketball, men’s hockey and baseball players did not have access to the one-time exception that athletes in other sports had and were forced to sit out a season after transferring as an undergraduate to a school at the same level of NCAA competition.
Many conferences including the ACC, Pac-12, Big 12 and Big East already dropped their restrictions on intraconference transfers.