The American Football Coaches Association wants to reward graduating student-athletes with a fifth year of eligibility. But only those who transfer. Student-athletes who don't transfer only get four years.
Currently, all NCAA student-athletes receive four years of eligibility, to be used over five years. There are exceptions with medical redshirts and other waivers but never is a student-athlete automatically allowed five full years of competition. In a proposal to the NCAA by the AFCA, an organization comprised of thousands of coaches across all levels in the United States, student-athletes could earn a fifth year of eligibility if they transfer, sit out a year and graduate.
For example, John Doe plays two seasons of football at Alabama, transfers to Texas, where, after sitting out one year, he plays two years and graduates. He is now rewarded with a fifth year of eligibility — if he wishes — and is immediately eligible for competition at Texas or any other NCAA school.
"That's the main problem with the whole transfer piece is the fact that a lot of them are not graduating," AFCA executive director Todd Berry told the Associated Press. "We want to give some incentive for that kid to graduate."
Fair enough, and while the proposal gives student-athletes more control over their future, what about John Doe's former teammate at Alabama who didn't transfer and doesn't get a fifth year? Bravo for Doe successfully navigating a transfer and graduating at Texas, but what does his teammate get?
It'd be stunning if the NCAA adopted this proposal, though it's worrisome that a powerful organization (AFCA) with a direct line to the NCAA thinks this makes sense.