|Scissor Kick, a soccer student-athlete at Ocean State University (OSU), wants to transfer at the end of spring semester. Scissor was denied permission to contact other institutions and is currently in the process of appealing that decision. Scissor’s appeal will be heard by the established committee on Friday. Scissor was offered the opportunity to email his statement and other supporting documents to the committee members to support his appeal. Scissor will not be present at the hearing.
Is OSU providing Scissor an appropriate opportunity to participate in the hearing?
No. NCAA Educational Column- 4/1/14- Recruiting and Eligibility — Four-Year Prospective Student-Athletes — Permission to Contact and Transfer Release — Response to Request and Hearing Opportunity (I) – states that this educational column was updated April 1, 2014, to add questions four, five, six and eleven to clarify active hearing participation, the impact of conducting a hearing that does not meet the active participation requirement and how to address requests for a transfer release. The original published date was maintained for ease of reference.
NCAA Division I institutions should note that NCAA Bylaws 188.8.131.52 and 184.108.40.206.10 specify that an institution shall grant or deny a request to contact and/or permit the use of the one-time transfer exception within seven business days of receipt of the request. The legislation also specifies that if the request is denied, the institution shall conduct the required hearing and provide written results of the hearing within 15 business days of receipt of the student-athlete’s written request and that the student-athlete shall be provided the opportunity to actively participate (e.g., in person, via telephone) in the hearing. Finally, the legislation specifies that if the institution fails to respond to the student-athlete’s written request or fails to conduct the hearing or provide written results within the specified time period, permission to contact or the transfer release shall be granted by default and the institution shall provide the written permission or release to the student-athlete.
The following questions and answers are intended to assist the Division I membership with the application of this new legislation.
Question No. 1: Does email constitute a written request?
Answer: Yes. Email is considered a written request. Each institution’s policies and procedures may specify whether other forms of communication (e.g., text message) constitute a written request for permission to contact, use of the one-time transfer exception, or an appeal hearing.
Question No. 2: May an institution’s response to the request for permission to contact or for a release in conjunction with the one-time transfer exception be conditioned on the student-athlete fulfilling specific obligations (e.g., academically eligible at end of term, return of apparel and equipment)?
Answer: No. The legislation specifies that a student-athlete’s request must be approved or denied within seven business days of receipt of the request. Further, the legislation specifies that if the institution delays a response to the request or indicates that permission will be granted at a later date, the institution shall inform the student-athlete in writing that he or she, on request, shall be provided a hearing. Institutions should note that even if the release in conjunction with the one-time transfer exception is granted, the student-athlete still must meet the other elements of the exception (e.g., progress toward degree, eligible had he or she remained) at the time of transfer.
Question No. 3: May an institution conduct an appeal hearing beyond the 15-day period if requested by the student-athlete?
Answer: No. The legislation specifies that the hearing shall be conducted within 15 business days of receiving the student-athlete’s written request for a hearing. The legislation requires that the student-athlete be provided the opportunity to actively participate (e.g., in person, via telephone) in the hearing. However, the student-athlete may choose to participate by providing written information only.
Question No. 4: What type of participation will satisfy the requirement that a student-athlete must be provided the opportunity to actively participate in the hearing?
Answer: Providing a student-athlete the opportunity to actively participate in the hearing requires the institution to provide an opportunity for the student-athlete and the institutional entity or committee conducting the hearing to have real-time interaction during the hearing. Examples of this real-time interaction include permitting the student-athlete to participate in the hearing either in person or via telephone. Approaches that do not permit this real-time interaction, like only permitting the student-athlete to submit written materials, do not satisfy the requirement.
Question No. 5: If an institution conducts an appeal hearing in which the student-athlete is not permitted to actively participate and the hearing’s written results are provided to the student-athlete, may the institution conduct another hearing in accordance with the legislation before the end of the 15-day period to satisfy the active participation requirement?
Answer: No. When a student-athlete is denied the opportunity to actively participate in a hearing and is provided the final results of the hearing, a violation has occurred and permission to contact the student-athlete shall be granted by default. However, an institution may establish policies and procedures for a multi-tiered appellate process and provide the final results to a student-athlete after all appeals have been exhausted. In the event that a student-athlete is denied the ability to actively participate in a hearing within a multi-tiered structure and has not been provided the final results of the hearing process, the institution may satisfy the legislation by conducting a hearing that meets the active participation requirement before the end of the 15-day period.
Question No. 6: If the student-athlete declines the opportunity to actively participate in the hearing, is it permissible to conduct the hearing solely based on written materials?
Answer: Yes, if the student-athlete was given the opportunity to actively participate (e.g., in person or via telephone) in the hearing and declined, it is permissible to conduct the hearing solely on the written materials submitted.
Question No. 7: What is the process to provide written permission to the student-athlete and other institutions when permission to contact or use of the one-time transfer exception is granted by default?
Answer: The legislation does not specify a specific process. Each institution shall develop its own protocol for providing written permission to a student-athlete and other institutions when permission to contact or use of the one-time transfer exception is granted by default.
Question No. 8: Would conference regulations regarding transfers (e.g., intra-conference transfer rules) still apply if an institution does not respond to a student-athlete’s request for permission to contact and/or use of the one-time transfer exception within the specified time period?
Answer: Yes. Although permission to contact or a release must be provided in such circumstances, conference rules continue to apply.
Question No. 9: If permission to contact or a release to use the one-time transfer is denied, does the legislation specify a time period by which the student-athlete must request a hearing?
Answer: No. Institutions may establish policies and procedures that may require a student-athlete to request a hearing within a reasonable time period of receipt of a denial of a request for permission to contact or to receive a release to use the one-time transfer exception.
Question No. 10: To whom may a student-athlete submit a written request in order to subject the institution to the response deadline?
Answer: The institution may establish reasonable procedures and inform student-athletes to whom a written request for permission to contact or for a release to use the one-time transfer exception must be submitted. For example, because permission to contact another institution about transferring must be issued by the first institution’s athletics director (or an athletics administrator designated by the athletics director), it is reasonable that a written request for permission to contact must be submitted to the athletics director or his or her designee.
Question No. 11: May an institution continue to address requests for permission to contact and requests for a transfer release on a case by case basis? In other words, would requests from different institutions be subject to different deadlines for response?
Answer: Yes; however, an institution’s response would depend on the scope of the request. For example, if the student-athlete requests that any other four-year institution be granted permission to contact him or her, the institution would still be required to provide a response within seven days of the receipt of the request.
[References: NCAA Division I Bylaws 220.127.116.11 (four-year college prospective student-athletes), 18.104.22.168.1 (hearing opportunity), 22.214.171.124.10 (one-time transfer exception, 126.96.36.199.10.1 (hearing opportunity)]