This Note articulates a normative framework for analyzing NCAA transfer rules, arguing that a balance must be struck between fairness for student-athletes and appropriate restrictions on transfer rules so as to prevent full-on free agency in collegiate athletics. The Note additionally argues that institutional autonomy over academics is a factor the NCAA must consider along with fairness and prevention of free agency. This Note will not wade into the complicated waters of potential antitrust issues with the NCAA, nor discuss the controversial calls for pay-for-play or unionization for student-athletes—instead, this Note will simply take for granted that it is desirable for the NCAA to avoid free agency and to maintain the amateuristic aspects of college sports. Part I will review the basics of the NCAA, lay out the current rules that govern Division I transfers, and discuss the normative structure that will be used in examining specific proposals and outstanding issues related to NCAA transfers. Part II analyzes each of four recent proposals by the NCAA Transfer Working Group to see how well they comport with the normative framework, and discusses the lurking problems surrounding the one-time transfer exception. The Note argues that a focus on the common ground between student-athletes’ interest in fairness and college athletics’ (assumed) interest in maintaining amateurism should guide the NCAA in shaping its transfer rules going forward.



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