NCAA denies request to drop Division I sport minimum

FILE - In this March 14, 2012, file photo, a player runs across the NCAA logo during practice at the NCAA tournament college basketball in Pittsburgh. The NCAA Board of Governors took the first step Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019, toward allowing athletes to cash in on their fame, voting unanimously to clear the way for the amateur athletes to "benefit from the use of their name, image and likeness." (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)

The NCAA Division I Council denied a request to temporarily waive the minimum number of sports required to be a Division I member and delayed a decision on allowing all college athletes to be immediately eligible one time after transferring.

The NCAA announced Friday night that a request made recently by five FBS conference commissioners to waive numerous Division I requirements for up to four years would be considered in the coming weeks. But a blanket waiver permitting schools to drop below the minimum 16 sports would only be considered on a case-by-case basis.

The request was made with schools bracing for tough times as the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic begins to take a toll athletic departments.

“Higher education is facing unique challenges, and the Division I leadership believes it’s appropriate to examine areas in which rules can be relaxed or amended to provide flexibility for schools and conferences,” said Council chairwoman Grace Calhoun, the athletic director at Pennsylvania. “We will prioritize student-athlete well-being and opportunities balanced with reducing costs associated with administering college sports, but a blanket waiver of sport sponsorship requirements is not in keeping with our values and will not be considered.”

The transfer waiver working group recommended in February to allow all athletes to transfer one-time in four years without sitting out a season. Some sports already have a one-time transfer exception, but not football, men’s and women’s basketball, hockey and baseball.

The waiver change could have gone into effect this year, but the council cited the uncertainty related to the COVID-19 outbreak for delaying a vote.

The council also recommended the Division I Board of Directors lift the current moratorium on transfer legislation so the council could vote on the concept of a one-time exception for all transfers in January 2021.