Around this time last year four UConn football players, Leon Kinnard, Gerrard Sheppard, Malik Generett and Michael Box, transferred to Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) schools – better known as Division I-AA. These transfers provided the opportunity to discuss the applicable NCAA transfer rule.
The recent transfer of quarterback Michael Nebrich from UConn to Fordham provides a reason to revisit the rule. Like Kinnard, Sheppard, Generett and Box, Nebrich will be eligible to play football at his new school 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.
It appears that Nebrich, who was recruited by former coach Randy Edsall and Joe Moorhead, had no problem obtaining a release from UConn. In a subsequent post, I’ll discuss whether Nebrich should have been required to obtain a release considering that the coaches who recruited him have left UConn.