Iowa Hawkeyes

Iowa athletics director Gary Barta sees academics being tied to transfer freedom

Barta is on the NCAA transfer working group and it's goal is more freedom but with accountability

Iowa Hawkeyes head coach Lisa Bluder watches a video commemorating her 700th win with athletic director Gary Barta at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Friday, Nov. 10, 2017. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
Iowa Hawkeyes head coach Lisa Bluder watches a video commemorating her 700th win with athletic director Gary Barta at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Friday, Nov. 10, 2017. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — The NCAA working group on the topic of transfers wants to find the sweet spot that includes freedom for student-athletes to move but with accountability built into the process.

Right now, the solution that makes the most sense is if a student-athlete wants to transfer they wouldn’t have to sit out a year if they had a GPA above 3.0 and a healthy amount of credit hours completed toward a degree.

“The current rule is if you transfer, you must sit a year,” Iowa athletics director Gary Barta said Thursday. “There are a lot of exceptions. In fact, something like 60 percent of all student-athletes get an exception. Well, whenever you have a rule and more than half the people get an exception, it’s probably time to reevaluate the rule.”

Barta is a member of the NCAA transfer working group. The transfer eligibility proposal and the ideas in place will be discussed again at a meeting in April and then, Barta said, a vote is scheduled in June.

This is an antiquated system the NCAA wants remedied immediately.

Barta said the group has researched academic data on transfers, with certain parameters, and that shows the likelihood of graduation goes down when a transfer happens. Colleges want college kids to graduate from college.

“The group is trying to find that nexus,” Barta said. “If you transfer, at what point are you academically strong enough that it won’t affect your timeline for graduation.”

If an athlete who wants to transfer is in good academic standing — Barta said he believes the transfer group will suggest a GPA above 3.0 — they won’t have to sit out a year and can leave immediately. If the academic requirements aren’t met, the athlete will have to sit out a season.

“I think where it might end up is if you have a certain GPA and a certain amount of credit hours earned and you transfer, you won’t have to sit,” Barta said. “Below that you’ll have to sit. It’ll be academically driven and motivated. The goal is, if you transfer, the likelihood of you graduating at the same time you would’ve graduated if you didn’t transfer, that’s the nexus that’s being looked at.”

Two elements Barta said the committee has thrown out are 1) the student-athlete having to ask permission from the school to transfer and 2) schools will not be able to block financial aid for the student-athlete at their transfer school.

“When we’ve had students transfer away and when we’ve had students transfer in, and I’m not naming names but you know who I’m talking about, it gets very contentious,” Barta said. “It can become very difficult for the student. And yet, the student has to have some level of responsibility.”

Right now, the “sit out a season” rule isn’t uniform. Some sports require it, but not all do.

“There will be uniformity going forward,” Barta said. “That’s the logical and fair way to go about it.”

On the possibility of tampering, Barta said the way that’s being approached at the moment is when a student-athlete tells a school they’re transferring, their name would go into a database where other schools could get their name and then legally start recruiting.

The vote will be with the NCAA Division I council. It could be in place before this fall.

“It has to move fast in fairness to getting something fixed,” Barta said. “If June doesn’t happen, we’ll see. What will happen in June, and it has to go to a vote, but I’m confident there will be no more need for asking for permission and no more blocking of financial aid. I’m confident those will happen.”

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