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NCAA recommends change to hardship waiver policy

The Division 1 Leadership Council proposed a change to hardship transfer rules. (G Fiume/Maryland Terrapins/Getty Images) The NCAA's proposed changes would curb waivers for immediate eligibility for hardship transfers. (G Fiume/Getty)

A student-athlete transferring to another program because of hardship could automatically receive an extra year of eligibility in the future.

On Friday the NCAA announced a recommendation that student-athletes who transfer due to "difficult life or family circumstances" be granted an extra year of eligibility. The recommendation from the Division I Leadership Council would also mean that transfers who qualify would no longer be able to apply for a waiver for immediate eligibility.

“We hope this change will encourage student-athletes who must transfer based on hardships to focus on the circumstances prompting the transfer during their first year and adjust to their new school, while giving them a season back to complete their eligibility,” said Amy Huchthausen, commissioner of the America East Conference and chair of the Leadership Council subcommittee that examined the transfer issue.

The NCAA said that its recommendation is meant to curb abuse of the transfer waiver process. Members of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee said some student-athletes preferred immediate eligibility, but the leadership council decided hardship transfers would be best served without a year of immediate competition.

In their discussions of the issue over the last several months, some subcommittee members noted that student-athletes who transfer due to an ill family member, for example, might be better served spending time with that family member rather than traveling and competing. Other members noted that people cope with personal hardship in different ways, and the distraction of competition might assist some student-athletes.

Student-athletes would have to show "some form of mitigation, such as serious family illness," to be eligible under the recommendation.

If the rule recommendation is approved by the Division I Board of Directors on April 24, the change would go into effect for the 2015-16 academic year.

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