NCAA Rules Governing Baseball Transfers

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The NCAA, or National Collegiate Athletic Association, oversees the athletics programs of numerous colleges and universities throughout the United States. The NCAA divides its member-schools among three divisions, depending on such factors as the size of a school and the amount of scholarship money a school offers to student-athletes. The NCAA has developed rules that govern nearly all aspects of its schools’ baseball programs, including the matter of student-athlete transfers.

Permission-to-Contact Rule

  • A college baseball player seeking to transfer to another school first must obtain permission-to-contact on behalf of the new school’s athletics director. This happens when the athletics director at the player’s original school sends a permission-to-contact letter to his counterpart at the new school. The letter grants the new school’s director permission to consider the player’s request to transfer and enter into negotiations with him.

    A player still may contact a another school and express interest in transferring there without this letter, but NCAA rules prohibit that school’s director from negotiating with him. The permission-to-contact rule applies to transfers among Division I and II schools. A transfer either between Division III schools or from a school that does not belong to the NCAA does not require permission-to-contact.

One Year “Sitting Out” Rule

  • Another NCAA baseball transfer rule prohibits a player who has transferred from one NCAA school from immediately participating in the baseball program at another one. Instead, that player first must complete a full academic year of classes at the new school before becoming eligible to play there. This process often is referred to as “sitting out.” The rule, which also applies to certain other NCAA school sports, aims to curtail a free agency system in college baseball, which results in smaller schools losing their players to larger ones.

Direct Entry Rule

  • In instances in which a student transfers from an NCAA school that either has discontinued its baseball program or never had one in the first place, that student may directly enter the baseball program at a new NCAA school without suffering the consequences of the sitting out rule. The direct entry rule does not apply to players who attempt to transfer before their schools publicly announce intentions to discontinue their baseball program.

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