By Eric Johnson
We’ve had some guys 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. Some players use transferring as a means to an end. Transferring from a JC to a D1 or D2 program is a common goal for a lot of guys, and a great way to work towards a roster spot at a 4-year school if they aren’t ready out of high school. Sometimes players find out, after they’ve spent a year at a school, that the program is not the right fit – athletically, academically, or both. 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 conferences are involved in the move.
What does that mean for you? That means you need to be very careful that you learn and follow all the rules so that you don’t lose any of your options or eligibility. If your transfer involves an NCAA school, you can find more information in their transfer guide. 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.
Here are some examples of transfer rules.
1. Most often, if you are at a D1 school, you cannot transfer directly to another D1 and play immediately. You may have to sit out for a year.
2. Most of the time, you can transfer from a D1 school to other levels (D2, D3, NAIA, etc.) and play immediately.
3. If you are academically eligible, you typically can transfer from JC school to a D1 program and play immediately. For D2, D3, and NAIA players wishing to transfer to a D1, you will have to look closely at the rules for your situation, you may have to sit out a year.
But, individual conferences may have their own rules. You need to do your homework!
Here are a few other things to consider before deciding to transfer.
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. Ask the coaches if you think you could get more playing time at another position. Explore all your options before you look to move elsewhere.
If you got cut, evaluate the roster for next year. Remember, if you’re cut, it counts as a red-shirt year, so you don’t lose a year of eligibility. Will your current team graduate a lot of seniors? Did players who played your position after you got cut under-perform? Have they put themselves in a position where your spot will be open?
There can be a lot of complicated feelings when you get cut. Some guys take offense. 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. It happens. But it doesn’t happen that often. Make sure you take an objective look at your performance. Keep in mind, it’s a recruiting coordinator’s job to make sure that the best possible players come into his program, so that the coaching staff has the best options to build their roster from. Whatever you were told, without an athletic scholarship, there aren’t any guarrantees for a roster spot. Period.
If you get cut, your first reaction should not be to leave. One of the best hitters I ever played with in college was cut his freshman year. During that season, he worked harder than anyone on the roster. He hit late at night, lifted consistently, and took every opportunity to improve his skills. Not only did he get better as a ball player, but he earned the respect of everyone on the team. He made the team his redshirt-freshman year, and was a Freshman All-American.
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 elligiblity to play and practice. Take your time and make the right decision that will make you happy on and off the field.