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4 Tips for Athletes Looking to Transfer Schools - by Sarah Daren

From the Coach’s Clipboard Basketball Playbook
Sarah Daren is a featured writer on the Today Show website and has been a consultant for organizations across a number of industries including athletics, health and wellness, technology and education. When she's not caring for her children or watching the New York Yankees play, Sarah enjoys practicing yoga and reading a good book on the beach.

Sarah Daren
Sarah Daren




Per your title as coach, it's your responsibility to help students in and outside of athletics. Whether you coach interscholastic or collegiate, athletes will have a variety of questions ranging from personal to academic. One such question is regarding transferring schools. Most commonly asked by students already in college, it can also come from high school students that are planning ahead.

The enrollment and transference processes are complex due to the many rules ensuring proper transition without skipping important milestones or gaining an unfair advantage. There are many reasons student-athletes may want to transfer. It may be part of their plan since high school, starting in one college in hopes of gaining entrance into another; a university or athletic experience wasn't what they were hoping for, so they would like to change; or for "greener" fields at another university with a stronger athletic program.

Regardless the situation, you can help your student-athletes with the following tips to successfully transfer schools:


- Research the prospects
- Understand the rules
- Academics are considered over athletics
- Work with an advisor

Research the Prospects


Before hopping from school to school, student-athletes need to seriously consider what they want, where they want, and why they want to do so. The NCAA transfer rules are strict and comprehensive, covering any and all transfer situations. So, before deciding on another university due to its athletic team or other reasons, they need to do comprehensive research.

- Is the school a right fit academically and athletically?
- Am I eligible to transfer and, if so, am I transferring to a different division?
- Is there anyone I'm familiar with that can help me better fulfill my goals?

Understand the NCAA Transfer Rules


Transferring is a complex system due to athletic, academic, and division protocol. A student-athlete may be the best athlete, but without meeting academic standards they'll be unable to transfer. It becomes even more complicated when it comes to transferring from division to division, or from a 2-year school to a 4-year school. To transfer, student-athletes need to know if they are a transfer athlete.

There are three common conditions for eligibility, and only one needs to be met. If it is met, then the student-athlete can consider transferring. It should be noted, however, these are common eligibility requirements, and further instruction or regulation may be needed:

1) Official enrollment full-time for a term, and present for the first day of class
2) Participated in regular practice before the start of class
3) Participated in practice before full-time enrollment

There are quite a few eligibility conditions that can be met, but they can vary from situation to situation depending on occurrence. Once they are met and a student-athlete is considered a transfer student, they can decipher what type they are. Transfers that happen between a 2-year college and a 4-year college are 2-4 Transfers with a set of rules. 4-year to 4-year are a 4-4 Transfer, and involve an entirely different set of rules. There is even a 4-2-4 Transfer, and student-athletes need to understand what rules apply there as well.

Academics are Considered over Athletics


Student-athletes may be going for gold, and looking to go pro. Unfortunately, only the top few will actually move on to play at the professional level, meaning they need to consider other aspects of their collegiate career - like academics. To make transfers possible, athletes need to be at/or above academic expectations. This is due to the difference in universities. It's hard to draw comparisons when each institution is different, but they are drawn so students who wish to transfer have the ability. Athletes can be superstars, but if they aren't academically eligible to transfer, then that option is already closed to them. Universities place priority on academics, so a great student-athlete can't transfer without acceptable grades.

Work with an Advisor


In their guide on how to transfer and keep your college credits, Maryville's Senior Enrollment Advisor, Thomas Nunes, says, "If you have completed college coursework previously, we highly encourage you to reach out to an admission advisor to assist in looking at what options you have, as well as how your credits may apply to your new school's degree plan." This is invaluable advice when looking to transfer. Not all credits will transfer from one school to another due to a few variables.

Colleges are unique; therefore, their courses differ. General courses usually transfer over without issue, but degree-related courses can be challenging. Time is also an issue. Depending on when the last time college was attended, some courses may no longer be accepted. This shouldn't be an issue for most student-athletes. Another major concern is accreditation. Not every school is accredited, and student-athletes may meet some obstacles if transferring from a non-accredited university. If there is any question, then student-athletes need to contact their advisor to see if their goals are attainable.

Comment from Coach Gels...


This excellent article from Sarah addresses collegiate level transfers. In regard to high school students transferring, I have a few thoughts. I personally don't like seeing high school players transferring from one school to another solely because of basketball. Sometimes kids will transfer because they don't like the coach, or because their team is less talented. They might want to play with their AAU buddies. They think they might get more exposure with another team.

Players and their parents should keep in mind that basketball is just a game and, as much as I love it, it's really not very important. Most players will never play beyond high school. Some will play in very small colleges, and the rare player will play Division I basketball. And even rarer is to play professionally.

So my personal thinking is that, unless there are some unusual circumstances, high school players should show loyality and play for their home town school and with the friends that they grew up with. It should be all about having fun. But then I'm old school... Dr. Jim Gels, aka Coach Gels.

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