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SEC, Big East latest to scrap intraconference transfer rules

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round-Baylor vs Gonzaga

Mar 23, 2019; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; General overall view of Wilson official NCAA basketball with the March Madness logo on the court during a second round game of the 2019 NCAA Tournament between the Baylor Bears and the Gonzaga Bulldogs at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK -- The Southeastern Conference and the Big East eliminated their intraconference transfer policies Thursday, allowing athletes to transfer within the leagues without losing a year of eligibility.

The decisions were made in each conference by university presidents and chancellors. The changes take effect immediately and are in line with the trend throughout college sports to allow more freedom for athletes who switch schools.

Athlete transfers in all Big East-sponsored sports will be governed by NCAA legislation.

The SEC’s change will more closely align the conference with NCAA rules. One difference with the SEC is it will require athletes who play fall sports - such as football - to declare their intent to transfer by Feb. 1. NCAA rules will require fall and winter sport athletes to notify their schools of a transfer by May 1 and spring sport athletes by July 1.

The SEC’s deadlines for winter and spring athletes will be the same as the NCAA’s.

The SEC’s decision means several high-profile football players will be immediately eligible in 2021 after transferring, including former Tennessee linebacker Henry To’o To’o at Alabama, former LSU tight end Arik Gilbert at Georgia and former LSU quarterback T.J. Finley at Auburn.

A new NCAA policy passed in April allows athletes in all sports to transfer once and be eligible to play immediately. For years, football, basketball, men’s hockey and baseball players did not have access to the one-time exception that athletes in other sports had and were forced to sit out a season after transferring as an undergraduate to a school at the same level of NCAA competition.

Many conferences including the ACC, Pac-12 and Big 12 already dropped their restrictions on intraconference transfers.