On Thursday, Josh Stein, the Attorney General of North Carolina, submitted a lawsuit against the NCAA for their rule regarding transfer eligibility.
The legal complaint claims that the regulation unjustly limits the freedom of college athletes to transfer schools and participate in athletics.
In January, the NCAA implemented updated regulations for undergraduate students who transfer for a second time. These rules dictate that they must either take a season off or seek approval from the organization. Undergraduate players are allowed to transfer once and can also transfer after graduating without having to sit out a season.
Stein expressed in an interview with WRAL his concern for restricting student-athletes. He believes they should have the same opportunity as any other American to follow their aspirations.
Stein drew parallels between athletes and students on music scholarships, including administrators and coaches like Mike Elko from Duke who recently left for a new position at Texas A&M following the end of their regular season.
According to Stein, if a student-athlete maintains good academic standing and is making progress towards graduation, they should be permitted to switch schools.
Stein wrote a letter to NCAA President Charlie Baker this fall outlining concerns over the transfer policy as it related to UNC wide receiver Tez Walker, who was eventually cleared to play by the NCAA. In the Sept. 26 letter, Stein said that his office was considering “pursuing litigation alleging violations of state and federal law.”
Efton Reid, a basketball center for Wake Forest, has been granted permission by the NCAA to compete as a transfer. Stein also penned a letter advocating for Reid. He acknowledged that there may be other athletes at schools in North Carolina who are currently ineligible to play, but deserve the opportunity.
A lawsuit was initiated in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia. The attorneys general of Ohio, West Virginia, Colorado, Illinois, Tennessee, and New York are involved in the case. They are requesting a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to stop the NCAA from enforcing the transfer rule.
Stein stated that there are student-athletes at ECU and NC State who are currently unable to participate in games. However, he believes they should be allowed to play and hopes they can return to the court as soon as possible.
In 2024, Stein, a member of the Democratic party, is seeking election as the governor of the state.
He stated that his participation in the Walker situation was enlightening. Walker was absent for the initial four matches of the season until the NCAA approved him. One of the motives behind Walker’s move from Kent State to UNC was to allow his ill grandmother to witness him play live.
There is no valid justification for preventing them from participating. It should not be a requirement to have the most heartbreaking story in order to be allowed to play. You should not have to have a terminally ill grandmother in order to participate.
In January, the transfer rule was unanimously approved by the NCAA’s Division I Council following concerns from coaches regarding frequent transfers. The updated rule removed all guidelines for undergraduate transfer waivers, with the exception of reasons related to physical and mental health. In Walker’s situation, his waiver was repeatedly denied until Stein and other lawyers intervened.
Stein stated that it is not necessary to handle this on an individual basis. This is why I am filing a lawsuit, as every child should have the opportunity to participate.