Dear Eligibility Coach:
My son attended a Division I University for two years, but was suspended last month due to an on-campus incident. He does not have any criminal charges against him, but he has been expelled from the university. He cannot return until 2015.
He competed on the football team for two years and has spoken with the head coach at a Division II University about transferring this summer. Will he be able to compete and receive an athletic scholarship next year? Also, the head coach he is speaking with says his attorney can work out the discipline problem at the old school. Is that permitted? It doesn’t sound right to me and he has an on-campus visit scheduled at the new school next week.
Those are actually two separate questions, the first being may he compete next year? Your son is considered a four-four transfer student as he is transferring from one four-year institution to another four-year institution. The general rule is four-four transfers must sit a year in residence before being able to compete at the new school. There are different exceptions to the transfer legislation that if applicable allow transfer student-athletes to compete without sitting a year in residence. However, since your son is under disciplinary suspension from his first institution, he will not be able to compete next year. According to NCAA Bylaw 126.96.36.199 student-athletes who transfer to any NCAA school from a collegiate institution while disqualified or suspended from the previous institution for disciplinary reasons must complete one calendar year in residence at the new institution before being able to compete.
The second question is whether or not your son will be able to receive athletically-related financial aid at the new university? A transfer student from a four-year school who attended the first four-year school for at least one academic year shall be eligible for financial aid and practice at an NCAA member institution under the rules of the school and the conference of which the school is a member. While visiting the new school, make sure to speak with the compliance officer and determine if there are any conference rules that may effect the ability of your son to receive an athletic scholarship.
You are right to be skeptical of the offer of free legal services. One, your son has not been criminally charged, he has been expelled through a university proceeding so only that university has the power to overturn that decision. Two, if your son receives free or reduced-cost legal services he will have received an extra benefit and may be declared ineligible. He would have to repay the cost of the legal services received to a charity and have the new university seek reinstatement of his eligibility. Reinstatements always have a 50-50 chance of success or failure.
Good luck to you and your son.