The SEC voted to change a rule that previously restricted student-athletes from transferring within the conference on Friday.
The current rule requires a transfer to sit out a season if he transferred within the league (SEC bylaw 126.96.36.199. The proposal was brought forward by Texas A&M and Florida. It challenged the current league rule that required Commissioner Greg Sankey to sign off on a student-athlete’s transfer if he transferred from one SEC school to another. The proposal would open the door for intra-conference transfers if the student-athlete’s previous school were to be put on a postseason ban by the NCAA.
This rule pertains to Florida in regards to Van Jefferson. Jefferson was one of six players to transfer away from Ole Miss and the only one that has yet to file for a waiver that would make him eligible next season. Florida has been waiting for this rule change to apply to the NCAA for Jefferson’s waiver. Based on the other cases that have been heard by the NCAA, Jefferson is almost assured to be granted his waiver when Florida applies and today’s vote in the SEC is one less hurdle in their way.
Jefferson was Ole Miss’ second leading receiver last year with 42 catches. He left Ole Miss after last season as the Rebels move into the second year of a two-year bowl ban imposed by the NCAA.
The biggest opposition to the change has been Nick Saban and Alabama. Saban has been cast as the villain in each of the last two seasons when trying to block a transfer. Last year it was cornerback Maurice Smith, who transferred to Georgia after graduating from Alabama. Smith appealed for a waiver and was allowed to play right away at Georgia. This year Saban has been blocking offensive lineman Brandon Kennedy.
Saban tried to equate the rule proposal to a “free agency” in the SEC. new Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher had a different outlook when asked about it in Destin earlier this week.
“A guy’s fulfilled his time and he’s graduated from school and he’s supposedly a man, he ought to be able to make those decisions,” Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said, speaking generally. “I know some people don’t agree with that, but I do. They graduated. They ought to be able to [transfer].”
Georgia initially brought the proposal up last year but a vote was tabled at that time. The decision to free up student-athletes who have graduated school on time or early is a step in the right direction. Punishing or restricting student-athletes that have done everything right by limiting their options isn’t right. The SEC made right on that old, archaic rule Friday and that’s a step in the right direction.