BUFFS

Prime may benefit from ‘game-changing’ NCAA transfer settlement

May 30, 2024, 1:36 PM | Updated: 2:02 pm

Deion Sanders...

Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser has been a leader in changing rules around the NCAA’s restrictions on transfers and the latest step may benefit Deion Sanders and the Colorado Buffaloes even more.

Sanders has built the Buffs roster largely on the back of transfers as the NCAA became more liberal with their rules with the forced implementation of the transfer portal. Now the result of the lawsuit that Weiser was a part of will eliminate any NCAA restrictions on transferring athletes.

The agreement between the U.S. Department of Justice and the NCAA must be approved by U.S. District Judge John Preston Bailey of the Northern District of West Virginia. If given the go-ahead, it will completely remove what the “coalition views as an illegal restraint on the ability of student-athletes to market their labor and control their education.”

“Student-athletes deserve to be treated fairly and not sidelined because of a coaching change or other circumstances beyond their control. Freedom to pursue opportunities is an American ideal and a core tenet of the antitrust laws. The NCAA’s effort to unjustifiably undermine that principle for students looking to transfer will end as a result of this settlement,” said Weiser in a news statement.

This means college athletes like Travis Hunter, who have already transferred, would not have to sit out a year for a second transfer if they hit the portal now. Heck, if he wanted to transfer a third or fourth time, it’s his right to do so.

The NCAA’s transfer eligibility rule required athletes who transferred among Division I schools to wait one year before competing in games unless they were granted a waiver. Although it never changed its rule, the NCAA in 2021 began automatically exempting first-time transfers from the regulation. Simultaneously, it continued to enforce the rule for subsequent transfers and to deny waivers for no real reason.

Weiser news release writes, “This uneven and arbitrary enforcement prompted the state attorneys general to sue the NCAA in December, accusing the agency of violating antitrust laws with its unfair restrictions on second-time transfers. The states, which were joined in the lawsuit by the Justice Department, maintained that the rule infringes on the ability of athletes to freely move to another school where they may have opportunities to compete.”

Judge Bailey granted the states’ request for a preliminary injunction, forbidding the NCAA from enforcing the transfer rule through at least the spring sports season, which just ended.

Judge Bailey granted a preliminary injunction forbidding the NCAA from enforcing the transfer rule back in December. The proposed settlement announced Thursday makes permanent the judge’s decision in favor of the athletes.

The agreement keys in on:

  • Preventing retaliation from the NCAA against member institutions and athletes who challenge the rule or support those who do. This includes safeguarding student athletes’ rights to compete during legal proceedings without fear of punitive actions from the NCAA.
  • Requiring the NCAA to grant an additional year of eligibility to Division I athletes who for any reason were previously deemed ineligible under the transfer eligibility rule since the 2019-20 academic year.
  • Prohibiting the NCAA from undermining or circumventing its provisions through future actions, rules, or policies, thereby ensuring college athletes’ rights and freedoms.
  • Establishes the court’s continuing jurisdiction to enforce its terms and resolve any disputes that may arise.

While these new rules should benefit the Buffaloes in the Coach Prime era, Colorado’s Athletic Director Rick Geroge took a shot at Weiser. Meanwhile, former Buffs star and a man key in getting Deion Sanders to Boulder, Jeremy Bloom was critical of George’s comments.

Colorado has had the No. 1 and No. 8 transfer classes the past two years as Sanders tries to rebuild the once-storied program. Getting more players eligible in the portal will likely only help Prime if he stays longer than his son Shedeur Sanders, who is expected to leave for the NFL Draft after this fall.

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