DESTIN, Fla. — Student athletes were the big winners as the SEC meetings came to a close Friday after league presidents voted on key provisions.
Most notably, grad transfers and players on teams facing postseason bans will be able to transfer in-conference and be eligible immediately. Previously, provisions were in place for those student-athletes to either be granted a release from the school or sit out a year.
SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said the grad transfer-friendly bylaw change was passed by a “super majority” vote.
Alabama coach Nick Saban was the most notable opponent to the new provision, taking a stance against what he repeatedly referred to as “free agency,” even though he later claimed his program stood to benefit.
Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt and athletic director Phillip Fulmer were among the first to publicly debate Saban’s stance on the issue, and several other football coaches and athletic directors fell in line.
The NCAA’s transfer working group will meet in Indianapolis on June 11 and is expected to present and approve a proposal which, according to an Associated Press report, is designed to “end the practice of schools and coaches blocking an athlete from transferring or dictating where an athlete can go.”
Once that proposal is passed, the SEC’s new bylaw will take effect, Sankey essentially indicated.
Further, the league’s bylaw involving serious misconduct — defined by the league as sexual assault, domestic violence, other forms of sexual violence, dating violence or stalking, or conduct of a nature that creates serious concern about the safety of others” — has been expanded to include prospects.
Scholarships have not been available to student-athletes that have pled guilty or no contest to such acts, and now that will be expanded to include high school prospects.
Here are three key bylaw changes/adjustments, with the SEC’s official rational:
Graduate transfers can transfer in conference without sitting out a season
SEC rationale statement: “The current [policy], which specified that a student-athlete who transfers from one member institution to another must serve a year-in-residence [irrespective of NCAA rules] prior to becoming eligible for competition at the second member institution, is applied uniformly to all transfers, with relief only being available through the established waiver process…. This proposal is therefore intended to either codify an exception for intra-conference graduate transfers consistent with recently approved waivers ….”
Student-athletes in programs dealt postseason bans can transfer in-league with immediate eligibility
SEC rationale statement: “…. Institutions that choose to operate outside the rules should not benefit financially from doing so. Similarly, student-athletes who choose to transfer should have the opportunity to be immediately eligible if an institution has been issued a postseason ban for actions and activity that is outside of the student-athlete’s control … “
Serious misconduct provision extended to high school prospects
SEC rational statement: “This proposal will expand the scope and application of current conference serious misconduct legislation to including any incoming prospective student athlete and rather make clear that incidents of such conduct involving a currently enrolled student-athlete shall remain at the discretion of the institution.”
Other rulings from SEC Spring Meetings:
• Visiting prospects will now receive five complimentary tickets for home athletics events [down from 6]
• Allow on-campus athletic evaluation of basketball prospects, in-line with the NCAA’s permissive legislation
• Baseball teams will be allowed two fall practice games against non-conference opponents
• Softball and baseball increase, from 3 to 4, number of coaches who may be employed and recruit off campus
• SEC baseball has approved centralized replay, with officials in Birmingham available for reviews
• No football staff members, coaching or otherwise, can be involved with football clubs involving prospects [7-on-7]
• Artificial noise shall not be used from time center touches the ball [previously “took his place over ball”]