The Division I Council took steps to modernize a number of rules Wednesday, including approving adjustments to transfer waiver guidelines, modifying personnel rules across several sports and formally eliminating the requirement for standardized test scores in initial eligibility. The Council met as part of the 2023 NCAA Convention in San Antonio.
The Council also received the final report and recommendations from the Division I Transformation Committee, which reports to the Division I Board of Directors. The board is expected to take action on the Transformation Committee's recommendations during its meeting Thursday.
"The Council's actions today for coaching limits reflect the ongoing efforts within Division I to modernize NCAA rules," said Lynda Tealer, executive associate athletics director at Florida and chair of the Division I Council. "These changes will ease the burden on campus compliance staffs and increase the number of coaches who can assist with recruiting activities."
The Council's actions are not final until the conclusion of the Division I Board of Directors meeting.
The Council voted to eliminate the voluntary coach designation across Division I, instead including those coaches within a new limit for countable coaches in each of the applicable sports.
By adopting the proposal, the number of countable coaches in baseball, softball and ice hockey increased to four total in each sport. The Council rejected an additional increase to five countable coaches in those sports.
The Council supported an increase of two coaches in men's and women's basketball. These additional coaches may engage in coaching activities but may not recruit off campus. The rules change codified a waiver in those sports that allowed noncoaching staff members to engage in skill instruction. In both Football Bowl Subdivision and Football Championship Subdivision football, the Council redefined graduate assistant positions to graduate student coaches and limited individuals to serving three years maximum in that role.
Men's and women's basketball opted not to impose the current seven-year window for manager positions to increase the opportunity for former student-athletes — who often compete professionally overseas immediately after college — to return to campus in pursuit of degree completion and to professionally develop as potential future coaches. In women's basketball specifically, the professional development of the manager position is considered an opportunity to increase the gender and racial diversity of the coaching ranks long-term, which is a specific objective of the sport's strategic plan.
The coaching limits rules take effect July 1.
Transfer waiver guidelines
The Council voted unanimously to update guidelines for the waiver process for undergraduate student-athletes who are transferring for a second time.
Each waiver request will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, but moving forward, student-athletes must meet one of the following criteria to be granted a waiver to compete immediately:
- A demonstrated physical injury or illness or mental health condition that necessitated the student's transfer (supporting documentation, care plans and proximity of the student's support system will be considered), or
- Exigent circumstances that clearly necessitate a student-athlete's immediate departure from the previous school (e.g., physical assault or abuse, sexual assault) unrelated to the student-athlete's athletics participation.
All other guidelines will no longer be used for waiver requests to compete during championship seasons that first occur in 2023-24.
The Council agreed that athletics reasons (lack of playing time, position presence) and academic preferences should not warrant waiver relief.
The Council directed the Transfer Advisory Group to recommend changes to the transfer waiver process to manage situations that fall outside these guidelines.
For transfer student-athletes expected to meet the requirements for a limited transfer exception (discontinued sport, or non-scholarship exception) the Council voted to allow student-athletes to enter the Transfer Portal at any time instead of requiring them to use their respective sport's transfer window.
Standardized test requirements for initial eligibility
The Council voted to eliminate test score requirements for immediate eligibility for incoming freshman student-athletes, at the recommendation from the NCAA Standardized Test Score Task Force. The task force was a specialized group charged with reviewing initial eligibility requirements as part of the NCAA's eight-point plan to advance racial equity.
"As some NCAA member schools shift away from requiring standardized test scores for general student admissions, the Council felt it was appropriate to reflect those admission standards in eligibility requirements for incoming freshman student-athletes," Tealer said.
Since 2020, NCAA Division I has waived standardized test requirements due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the ability of prospects to take the test.
The Council referred a proposal that would add stunt to the Emerging Sports for Women program in Division I back to the Committee on Women's Athletics, which requested an opportunity to conduct additional diligence.