Transfer restrictions under scrutiny

A year ago, Danielle Collins was on the move.

Looking for a coaching style that meshed for her, she left Florida after her freshman year and transferred to Virginia. Her first season as a Cavalier ended with her hoisting the NCAA women’s singles trophy on Monday afternoon at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex.

Her story is in stark contrast to what played out at Kansas State, where leading scorer and rebounder Leticia Romero was denied by the school a release to transfer after the program fired its basketball coach. That drew sharp criticism nationally. Athletic director John Currie and an appeals committee turned down all 94 schools on the freshman’s list of possible transfer options. But Tuesday, Currie and the committee granted her a release under a new policy: she can’t transfer to a Big 12 school.

“I think it’s really important that they keep that door open for people to transfer,” Collins said. “If you’re not happy at a program and if you get stuck at a program where your coaches don’t believe in you and you don’t really buy into everything that you’re coaches are doing, I think it’s important for you to leave where you are and go to another school where it’s best for you.”

Collins said transferring allowed her to grow not only as a player but as a person under a different coaching staff.

Florida did not restrict where Collins could transfer, but under Southeastern Conference policy she would have had to sit out a year if she transferred to another SEC school.

NCAA tennis transfer rules allow first-time transfers to compete right away at a new school while those who transfer in the high-profile sports of football, men’s basketball and baseball must sit out a year. A football player can play immediately if he transfer to the FCS level.

Those who transfer within conference in the SEC or Atlantic Coast Conference not only must sit out a year, but could lose a year of eligibility. In the ACC, an athlete would have to pay his or her own way and would lose a year even if they have a redshirt year to use. The SEC says if the school from which the athlete is transferring doesn’t get permission for the other school to contact, the athlete would have to pay his or her own way the first year, under NCAA rules, but that a redshirt year could be used if an individual hasn’t used it yet.

With player welfare in college at the forefront nationally, transfer restrictions could be revisited.

“Clearly it’s time for us to have serious conversations about the transfer rule and how it applies,” SEC commissioner Mike Slive told the Associated Press last week. “I anticipate that there’ll be some spirited conversation about that once we get the autonomy to deal with that.”

The NCAA board of directors is expected to grant “autonomy” to the SEC and four other major conferences later this summer.

Men’s tennis (14.6 percent) and women’s tennis (11.3 percent) had the highest transfer rates from four-year schools in 2012-13, according to NCAA research. Basketball was second in men’s sports at 13.3 percent. Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com compiles a list in that sport that has reached 525 this offseason.

Meanwhile, the SEC is considering a change to its own transfer policies this week at its spring meetings in Destin, Fla., which started Tuesday, that would put it more in line with NCAA transfer rules when it comes to graduate transfers.

The SEC doesn’t prevent an athlete who graduates within four years from transferring to an SEC school to be eligible to play for a final season as a graduate student, which could put it at a competitive disadvantage.

The SEC did away with graduate student exceptions in 2011 after quarterback Jeremiah Masoli transferred from Oregon to Ole Miss. South Carolina has proposed allowing them again three different ways — for all sports, for all except football or for only basketball.

“What the feeling of the group is I don’t know,” Alabama athletic director Bill Battle said before the meetings began. “I’m not sure why we have policies more restrictive than the NCAA.”

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