NCAA proposal to eliminate hardship waivers a positive step

Jamie Squire

The controversial waiver that allows some transfer athletes to play immediately might soon be eliminated.

Now that the NCAA has eliminated food limits for its athletes, another big change might soon be coming.

The NCAA has proposed a policy change that would get rid of the hardship waivers that currently allow athletes to transfer and play immediately at their new schools under certain circumstances. Normally, transfers must sit out a year before returning to game action.

It seems to be a move that would benefit everyone.

The waivers have been a source of controversy over the last few seasons, but if they were to be eliminated, NCAA Leadership Council subcommittee chair Amy Huchthausen notes it would ultimately benefit the athletes.

"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."

It was always puzzling why a player who decides to transfer due to family hardship would be allowed to play immediately, or even why the athlete would want to.

College athletes in any sport spend countless hours each week in team activities, including games, practices, travel and more. It seems like a lot of unnecessary stress added to a college student's life as he or she also adjusts to a new school and, more importantly, helps his or her family.

If the NCAA put transfer waivers in place to encourage athletes to move closer to home and address an urgent situation, then its intentions may have been noble, but they seem misguided. It'd make more sense to encourage a player to step away from athletics, help his or her family and return to the court or field when ready.

If the change is approved, athletes would not have to worry about losing a season of playing time. Instead of playing right away, they would have another year of eligibility tacked on to the end of their collegiate careers.

It would also potentially close a loophole that coaches might use to immediately gain access to unhappy players at other schools, or that those players would use to switch schools. As CBS Sports' Matt Norlander explains, a number of coaches have told him that they've "bent the spirit of the hardship waiver to its limits" in the past. Jeff Eisenberg of Yahoo! Sports speculated that current players could also use "an aunt or uncle who is ill" in order to go to a school closer to home in order to get more playing time or find a coach he or she gets along with better.

Now there would be no more bending the rules, for coaches or players. The NCAA would not have to worry about approving these waivers, which in itself has become a confusing process. Those who truly need to transfer for personal reasons would be able to address those issues without losing eligibility. It's a win for all involved.

The Division I Board of Directors will meet on April 24 and review the proposal. If approved, it will go into effect for the 2015-16 season and will impact baseball, basketball, bowl subdivision football and men's ice hockey players.

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