The majority of the Southeastern Conference’s football coaches want a ban on graduate transfers within with the league, but the conference’s decision-makers aren’t ready to take that step yet.
The school’s presidents were given a proposal Friday to enact such a ban, but tabled the legislation in an effort to get more information and allow an upcoming NCAA working group on transfers to do its work, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said as the league’s annual spring meetings concluded.
“Quite a few of us would like it to be restricted in our league,” Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said. “We don’t like the idea of having free agency in our league.”
The most vocal proponent of the ban was Alabama coach Nick Saban, who last year saw defensive back Maurice Smith move to Georgia as a graduate transfer.
“I mean, why should guys leave your team and go play for somebody else and you have to play against them? I don’t think that’s fair,” Saban said. “Look, I think we would benefit. We would benefit as much as anybody in our league if you said you can transfer. Kentucky’s got a good player? We’ll go see if we can get him to come to Alabama. Why do we want that? Why do we need that? How does that help the integrity of what we’re trying to do as a conference or as a league?”
The league presidents did vote to roll back one part of their graduate transfer rules, lessening the penalty for schools who don’t properly use the rule. Under the SEC’s previous rule, if a school took a graduate transfer and that student didn’t continue to make academic progress while at their new school, the school could not accept another graduate transfer for three years. That penalty period has been reduced to one year.
“We are unique as it relates to having any requirements around our graduate transfers,” Sankey said.
Alcohol sales. The conference is standing by its ban on alcohol sales in all areas of athletics venues other than club seating, but there is a continuing conversation on the subject, Sankey said.
“We have not currently changed our policy, but it’s one off those things that will be under discussion,” Sankey said.
University of South Carolina president Harris Pastides said the league might allow “pilot programs” at various schools to test the sale of alcohol in areas other than club seating but said that USC will not be involved in any of those experiments.
“I am generally against it,” he said.
Season status quo. An NCAA proposal to extend each football season to 14 weeks, meaning two bye weeks per season, did not get the support of the SEC coaches.
“The notion of starting a week earlier is not one that was perceived favorably at this point,” Sankey said. “I think there is more conversation to come.”
Currently, a 14-week season is allowed only when the placement of the Labor Day holiday allows it.