Beaulieu: New transfer rules could be trickiest for schools like CSU

Mack Beaulieu

The NCAA’s Division I Council approved new rule changes as they pertain to transfers and redshirts June 13. While the changes might be good for student athletes, it could put schools like Colorado State University in a tricky position.

The pair of rules released last Wednesday did two things; they removed the need for players to ask their schools for permission to transfer and gave football players the ability to redshirt after playing up to four games. While the redshirt rule should benefit both players and their teams at each level, the changes to transfers add many new decision-making elements that could make or break athletic programs. In particular, programs that sit on the cusp between majors.

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CSU and others in the Mountain West are often in talks to move to a power conference, because they are some of the best programs outside the power five. The Mountain West conference also lacks the competition and money of a Power Five school, which is a factor of many players’ decision.

With the new rules in place, students wishing to transfer are put in the transfer database within two days of informing the school and are free to talk to other schools without needing permission. This could lead to an easier route for starters and backups in each conference to recieve a more pronounced role or a bigger spotlight.

While players should certainly have their reservations about transferring, they are now more likely to know where they stand in the eyes of their respective sports, lowering the risk of demotion upon transferring. 

What this will mean for many schools is that if they don’t have a tight-knit program and someone is exceeding expectations, then there is a better chance of teams being broken up just as some of their players are reaching the next level. Furthermore, teams like the Rams could add game-changers in the form of disgruntled former power-five members in a quicker and more open manner. Basically, the best teams that are not in a power conference will be at the risk of having to do a lot more maintenance to hold their competitiveness with power-five teams.

CSU fans could certainly look at this as an opportunity for football, as coach Bobo’s name still seems to carry weight in the SEC. Had these rules come into play earlier on, CSU’s basketball team could have seen even more transfers than it has over the last few years. Programs that run in a similar manner, without regard for the care of their players will likely lose some of their most talented athletes. 

Thanks to a follow-up rule that was passed on Tuesday, a lot of the possible damage that teams could do to themselves or others has been mitigated. The same council ruled that schools would be able to cut off a student’s scholarship immediately if a player decides to put himself on the transfer list, effective at the end of the term.

This could be a good thing for certain schools that do not want their players just testing their market value. It should be an effective scare tactic for players that are not positive they want to stay with the team. What individual schools do in these situations could develop into its own recruitment strategy. However, it still leaves room for the best players to make fast decisions on what they want their future to be.

While most of the focus here will remain on football and men’s basketball, the rule might end up applying most often to athletes who do not play one of the more lucrative sports. CSU showed this year that they are rising in areas like track and field, golf and softball while maintaining their dominance in volleyball. The women’s basketball team struggled a bit this year, but they’ve been one of the Mountain West’s best teams in recent memory.

Those teams all have players that could make a jump almost immediately and the power conference teams trying to poach them can offer opportunities that teams in the Mountain West are unable to.

Being an athletic program on the rise and outside the Power Five just got a lot more delicate and the dynamics could be changing. Players will have more say over their careers, forcing teams to embrace new tactics or risk a complete collapse when run like a Larry Eustachy program. It should affect everybody to some extent, but schools like Colorado State will be fighting for position now more than ever.

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Mack Beaulieu can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @Macknz_James.