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New immediate eligibility proposal could be game-changer for Kentucky

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The rule would instantly make a big impact in Lexington.

Joey Gatewood

With more than a third of Division I athletes transferring at least once, an NCAA working group is pushing for a change that would allow immediate eligibility for all first-time transfers that meet approved requirements.

The Transfer Waiver Working Group, led by Chairman Jon Steinbrecher, Commissioner of the Mid-American Conference, is expected to get feedback from all Division I member schools before a final decision is rendered in time for the 2020-21 academic year. The proposal would need final approval from the full Division I Council who are expected to meet in April.

Per the working group recommendations, those student-athletes transferring to new schools would have to meet the following requirements to qualify for immediate eligibility: receive a transfer release from their previous school, meet academic eligibility standards, maintain academic progress and leave their previous school in good standing with no disciplinary suspensions.

The proposed rule change would be great news for Kentucky football as Auburn transfer Joey Gatewood is already enrolled at UK and could compete for the starting job heading into the 2020 season. However, the quarterback room looks to be crowded early with Terry Wilson set to return from injury and Sawyer Smith, Amani Gilmore and incoming freshman Beau Allen all capable of running the offense.

Gatewood, a four-star quarterback from Jacksonville, Florida, is Kentucky’s highest rated signal caller since Tim Couch, coming in at No 36 overall in the ESPN 300 rankings out of high school. At Auburn, Gatewood was 5-for-7 for 54 yards and two touchdowns in limited action before entering the transfer portal.

While Kentucky Football could see a boost with Gatewood’s immediate eligibility, it’s too early to say what impact the proposed waiver change could have for UK coach John Calipari and the Kentucky basketball program.

Most notably, the new rule could possibly re-open the recruitment of numerous blue chip prospects that might be looking for a fresh start. In addition, it might also keep players in the college ranks a little longer if they no longer have to sit out a year to change schools. (Case in point, Kahlil Whitney will most likely enter the NBA Draft rather than sit out a year).

However, the downside is that some of those looking for second chances might already be in a Kentucky uniform, resulting in a revolving door at the close of each season.

What do you think of the proposed rule change?