SEC relaxes transfer rules, clearing path for UF’s Jefferson

Published 11:39 pm Friday, June 1, 2018

AP)— The Southeastern Conference has relaxed two rules regarding intra-league transfers, clearing the way for former Mississippi receiver Van Jefferson to play at Florida this fall and opening the door for Alabama offensive lineman Brandon Kennedy to be eligible for a rival school this season.

SEC presidents and chancellors passed legislation Friday in Destin, Florida, that allows players at a school under NCAA sanctions to transfer to another institution within the conference without sitting out a season. Florida and Texas A&M sponsored the proposal, with Jefferson reaping the immediate benefits.

Jefferson, a fourth-year junior, caught 42 passes for 456 yards and a touchdown in 2017 for Ole Miss. He had 999 yards receiving in two seasons before transferring to Florida this offseason. He still has to gain clearance from the NCAA, but that seems like a formality after six other former Ole Miss players were cleared to play this season after transferring, including Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson. The Rebels are halfway through a two-year postseason ban.

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The SEC also passed a rule that allows players who have received their degrees from SEC schools to transfer within the conference and play right away, without the need for a waiver. Previously, the SEC required grad transfers to sit out a season if they switched to another SEC school. NCAA rules allow athletes who have graduated to transfer without sitting out a season, but the SEC rule trumped the NCAA bylaw.

The tweak to the SEC graduate transfer rule was first proposed by Georgia during spring meetings in 2017, after defensive back Maurice Smith in the summer of 2016 transferred from Alabama to Georgia. Alabama coach Nick Saban remained steadfast on following the letter of the SEC’s law, but eventually Smith got a waiver to play immediately for Georgia coach Kirby Smart, a former Alabama assistant.

Alabama was again in the middle of grad transfer debate at this week’s SEC spring meetings, much to the chagrin of Saban.

Backup center Kennedy is looking for move within the conference, with Tennessee or Auburn reportedly likely destinations, and play this season as a graduate transfer. Kennedy had unsuccessfully appealed to Alabama for immediate eligibility in the SEC and the Crimson Tide could still prevent him from moving within the conference. But NCAA-wide changes to transfer rules that would remove a school or coaches ability to block a transfer or dictate where an athlete can go are expected to pass later this month.

At the SEC Meetings in Destin, coaches were concerned that relaxing transfer rules would go too far and eventually allow athletes to transfer to any school and play immediately. That sort of movement is allowed in some non-revenue sports, but not in football, basketball, baseball and hockey.

The SEC also said that by 2020 metal detectors will be used at all conference events.