During the preseason, four UConn football players, Leon Kinnard, Gerrard Sheppard, Malik Generett and Michael Box, left the university to transfer to a Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) school – better known as Division I-AA. All four players were reportedly eligible to compete for their new schools immediately.
The commonly held assumption is that these student-athletes are not required to sit out for a year because they are moving down a division.
This is assumption is accurate in practice, but the rule is more specific. Here is the rule as it applies to football:
A participant in championship subdivision football at the institution to which the student is transferring may use [the one-time transfer exception] only if the participant transferred to the certifying institution from an institution that sponsors bowl subdivision football and has two or more seasons of competition remaining in football or the participant transfers from a Football Championship Subdivision institution that offers athletically related financial aid in football to a Football Championship Subdivision institution that does not offer athletically related financial aid in football.
See NCAA Bylaw 18.104.22.168.10 (One-Time Transfer Exception).
To invoke this exception, the student-athlete also must be transferring for the first time (except for transfers due to the elimination of a sport), meet certain academic requirements, and have obtained a release from the original (or sending) school.