Note: This article provides a general overview of the transfer process, transfer rules, and other things to consider when exploring the possibility of transferring schools. If you have specific individual transfer or compliance related questions, we suggest you reach out to CACE Answers, a nonprofit organization that offers free transfer and compliance advice to prospective and current student-athletes!
Are you a college baseball player thinking about transferring to a new program? If so, you’ve come to the right place.
Impact Looser Transfer Rules and Covid-Related Roster Management: A More Competitive Transfer Process
COVID-related exemptions and the now year-old change to the NCAA Division I transfer rules have shaken up the transfer process. It’s now easier than ever for student-athletes to transfer from one institution to another and play right away, but that doesn’t mean the process will be any easier or that the grass is always greener. The one-time transfer rule and newfound ease of entering the transfer portal has made the transfer process and pool of players available more competitive than ever before. Pair the overwhelming number of players in the portal each year with the availability of video and data on each of these players, you quickly find that many who enter the transfer portal aren’t finding new homes too easily, if at all.
While the portal log-jam and migration of players may start with Division I, the depth of player talent in the transfer pool will trickle down to every level of college baseball. Much like the initial recruiting process of a high school player, the transfer process has also become more competitive than ever.
Is it Easy to Transfer?
We always have people asking about the details of transferring. Transferring is not something that should be done casually. Part of playing college ball is bonding with your teammates. Transferring can be tough, because it means you’re leaving a lot behind – players, coaches, program, and, most importantly, friends.
That being said, we know that there are good reasons to transfer and that transferring is a big part of college baseball. Some players use transferring as a means to an end. Transferring from a JC to a 4-year program is a common goal for a lot of guys, and a great way for players to work towards roster spots at 4-year schools if they aren’t ready out of high school. Approximately 1 out of 5 D1 players are JC transfers.
Other times, players find out, after they’ve spent time at a school, that the program is not the right fit – athletically, academically, or both. Now, many players are transferring because of crowded rosters or loss of scholarship money and playing time. It is possible to transfer out of any NCAA or NAIA school and play in another school BUT there are a lot of rules that must be followed and those rules differ depending on what programs and divisions are involved in the move.
An Overview of Transfer Rules
All players who consider transferring need to follow all the rules very carefully (even as they seem to be changing frequently), so that you don’t lose any of your options or eligibility. There’s more to transferring than simply switching jerseys, and the course schedule you have taken will be very important for fulfilling academic transfer requirements. If your transfer involves an NCAA school, your first step should be to go to the NCAA Transfer page HERE and follow the steps listed. For NAIA schools, you can find information in their guide. But these guides will only give you part of the story. You’ll need to get information directly from officials in the athletic and admissions departments in both schools. We also suggest checking in with our friends at CACE Answers, who provide free guidance on transfer and compliance issues.
Here are some examples of transfer rules.
- In April 2021, the NCAA D1 Council voted in favor of a one-time transfer exemption for student-athletes across all sports, giving players the ability to transfer to another D1 program and play immediately. Previously, baseball players had been excluded from transferring and playing immediately. That has changed and it’s a big deal! Players now have 45 days after Selection Monday to declare their intent to transfer and be eligible to play right away for their new team. Players who fail to notify their intent to transfer before July 13 will have to go through a waiver process. Players who are academically ineligible at their current school will not be eligible to play upon transferring.
- Most of the time, you can transfer from a D1 school to other levels (D2, D3, NAIA, etc.) and play immediately.
- In almost every case, you can transfer from a 4-year school to a 2-year JC and play immediately.
- If you transfer from a 2-year JC to a 4-year school, your grades and credits are EXTREMELY important. Read our article on transferring from a 2-year JC to a 4-year school HERE for information on academic transfer requirements. Transferring from a 2-year JC to a 4-year program is much easier when you show up with a plan from day 1.
Part of what makes transferring a challenge is that transfer rules change regularly, but often with little fanfare or attention. Because each division and sometimes even conferences have differing transfer rules, you need to do your homework, especially as rules are changing regularly.
Other Transfer Considerations
The first is academics. Do not underestimate the importance of education. Consider that very, very seriously when you’re thinking about changing schools. Remember, the percentage of players who get into pro-baseball is very small. Make sure that you are not giving up anything that you might regret later.
If you’re thinking about transferring because of playing time, take a good long look at the roster at your current school. Check out when the guys in front of you are graduating and who you are competing with. Have a very honest conversation with the coaches at your current program about earning playing time moving forward or even if it would benefit you to play another position. Explore all your options before you look to move elsewhere. Playing time is competitive everywhere. There are no guarantees for playing time at your current school or new school and if you want to be in the mix, you are going to have to perform. If you haven’t performed well in the opportunities you have had, that’s the place to start.
There can be a lot of complicated feelings when you get cut. Players who are competing to play in college have probably never been told they’re “not good enough.” Sometimes coaches make mistakes and cut the wrong guys. Sometimes a player needs that wake-up call to open their eyes, change their behavior, and turn their college opportunities around. It happens. Keep in mind that at the college level, it’s the coach’s job to put the most competitive team together. It’s much more business-like than what players are used to in high school. It may feel personal, but sometimes it is just what the coach feels is in the best interest of the program.
Respond by first looking in the mirror and taking an objective look at your performance. Next, make sure you ask the difficult questions about future opportunities or if there is an avenue for trying out/making the team for next season. The ability to earn your way back on the team will not be an option everywhere, but an honest conversation with the head coach can go a long way in determining future outlook for getting back on the team. Consider the circumstances of why you got cut. Is it an attitude problem? Performance or ability related? Are you getting moved along because of other circumstances? All these things matter and getting honest answers from the coach can help you decide what to do next. If the door isn’t open for a return, ask the coach if he’s willing to help you find a new home.
Whatever you were told, there aren’t any guarantees for a roster spot, but it doesn’t hurt to understand your options completely before you start packing your bags.
There are a lot of reasons that people consider transferring. Some of those reasons are good, others are not. It can’t be a gut decision. You need to use your head and be objective. Make sure that you talk it over with your family and your current coaching staff before you make a decision. These might not be pleasant conversations, but they’re absolutely necessary. You never know what information you’ll learn and what promises will be made. If you do decide to transfer, make sure you understand what it will mean in terms of your eligibility to play and practice. Take your time and make the right decision that will make you happy on and off the field.