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AP report: NCAA set to pass one-time transfer exception on Thursday
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AP report: NCAA set to pass one-time transfer exception on Thursday

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USC Arizona Football

USC running back Markese Stepp (30) breaks away from Arizona defensive back Christian Roland-Wallace during a game on Nov. 14  in Tucson, Ariz.

Starting next season, major college football and basketball players will be permitted to transfer one time before graduating without being required to sit out a year of competition.

The Associated Press reported Wednesday that the NCAA Division I Council had voted to change the long-standing rule that has often deterred players in high-profile sports from switching schools, according to two people with knowledge of the council’s decision.

The people spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the two-day meeting was still in session and the council’s decisions would not become official until it ends Thursday. The Athletic first reported the council’s vote.

Nebraska coach Scott Frost said earlier this week that he understood the benefits of the rule — particularly this year given the coronavirus pandemic — but that he also has concerns.

“It’s tough for me to comment because I think from a players’ standpoint, it’s fair for them if they have the opportunity to go wherever they want to (in order) to play,” Frost told reporters in Lincoln on Monday. “It’s going to be a headache for guys like me in the coaching business. I would comment more but I don’t think my opinion matters. It’s just going to change the landscape of everything and all the transfers that you saw this year, I imagine that those numbers will stay high.

“There’s usually more people transferring than there are spots for them to transfer, so hopefully that will normalize at some point because I don’t think it’s in anybody’s best interest, usually, to be jumping around as much as we’re seeing now.”

For Nebraska, the rule’s formal passage will mean USC transfer running back Markese Stepp is immediately eligible along with NU men’s basketball transfer CJ Wilcher from Xavier. Both of those programs could also add more transfers as the spring and summer progress.

The so-called one-time exception has been available to athletes in other NCAA sports for years, allowing them to transfer and play immediately. Athletes in football, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s ice hockey and baseball have not had that available to them without asking the NCAA for a special waiver and claiming a hardship caused the need for a transfer.

Athletes who have graduated have also been permitted to transfer without sitting out, but not undergraduates.

Starting this fall semester, all athletes will be operating under the same rules: Transfers will be allowed to play right away.

Those in fall and winter sports must notify their schools they intend to transfer by May 1; in spring sports, the notification date will be July 1. The notification dates begin in 2022.

For this year, athletes in all sports will be required to notify their schools about their intent to transfer by July 1.

The council also voted to let the current dead period in recruiting in all sports expire June 1. A ban in in-person recruiting has been in place for more than a year because of the pandemic. Coaches will again be permitted to visit recruits off campus, hold camps on campus and welcome prospective student-athletes on official recruiting visits.

— Parker Gabriel contributed to this story

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Husker football reporter

Parker joined the Journal Star as the University of Nebraska football beat writer in August 2017. He previously covered Montana State athletics for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 2012.

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