According to the NCAA, the rule change is based in player-safety reasons. In turn, the player's name will be added to a national "transfer database" which allows coaches from other programs to contact that player without restrictions.
Virginia football coach Bronco Mendenhall has been an outspoken proponent of the NCAA changing its redshirt rules to allow younger players the chance to get some limited game experience without losing a full year of eligibility.
The rule allowing football players to take a redshirt season even if they participated in four games goes into effect this season. The rule will put an end to a debatable practice wherein a DI coach would prevent an athlete wishing to transfer from contacting specific schools (usually rival schools).
"The Division I Council adopted a proposal this week that creates a new "notification-of-transfer" model", the NCAA writes.
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This new rule comes following a recommendation from the NCAA's 19-member Division I Transfer Working Group, who studied, researched and debated the issue for six months.
But a change to that rule will now allow for some breathing room. The NCAA release does say, however, that conferences can still make rules within this process that are more restrictive than the national rule. As part of the rule change approved this week, tampering with a current student-athlete at another school is now a potential Level 2 violation which could bring penalties from the NCAA's Infractions Committee.
"The change promotes not only fairness for college athletes, but also their health and well-being", said Miami (Florida) athletic director Blake James, who doubles as the chair of the Division I council. As of now, schools can not cut off an athlete's financial aid based on intent to transfer at the end of a term - but the NCAA will vote on two different proposals that would allow institutions to end aid after an athlete's intent to transfer has been made clear.
"This creates a safe place for student-athletes to have a conversation with their coaches and makes the whole process more transparent", said Nicholas Clark, a recent Coastal Carolina graduate and the student representative to the council. Under previous rules, any participation in a game meant that a player's redshirt year, which offers them an extra year of competition at some point down the road, was used up. "This will clean the process up and give more influence and flexibility to the student-athlete". Now, coaches will be able to use a true freshman on a limited basis in up to four games and that player would still have four years of additional eligibility.