University of Hawaii football coach Rolovich wary of new NCAA transfer rule

University of Hawaii coach Nick Rolovich said he is cautiously monitoring the impact of a new NCAA transfer rule on his football team.

The rule change, which goes into effect in October, will allow an FBS player to go on a national intent-to-transfer registry after notifying his team. The football player then could transfer to another school and receive a scholarship immediately without consent from the original school. The previous rule empowered an original school the option of not issuing a release, a restriction that prevented the player from receiving a scholarship in the first year at his new school.

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The new rule still will keep in place the policy of forcing a football player transferring between FBS schools to sit out in his first year at the new school.

Rolovich is concerned if the new rule will increase the gap between the so-called Power-Five schools and the Group of Five, of which UH is affiliated. He said he does not want the Group of Five to become a feeder system.

“I hope the Group of Five doesn’t get renamed the Triple A, you know, for the Power Five,” Rolovich said. “There could be some Power Five players who aren’t playing that are transferring out. But that doesn’t hurt (the Power Five teams) as much as maybe a Group of Five star player (transferring) hurts that program.”

In the past two years, the Rainbow Warriors have acquiesced to players seeking a release, a list that included cornerback Nick Nelson (Wisconsin), defensive tackle Viane Moala (Utah), and offensive linemen Netane Muti (Fresno State) and Brandon Kipper (Oregon State). Quarterback Dru Brown (Oklahoma State), slotback Dylan Collie (Brigham Young) and safety Daniel Lewis (Louisiana Tech) are transferring as graduates and do not need a UH release to receive a scholarship this coming season.

“You develop a kid for three years, and he’s a good player, and somebody wants him,” Rolovich said. “I think it just hurts your (program’s) continuity, for sure.”

Rolovich said a greater impact has been the implementation of last year’s so-called hard-25 rule. Each year, a team is allowed to add 25 scholarship players. Prior to the rule change, if a team signed 25 players and two did not meet the NCAA eligibility requirements to enroll, a team could sign two more. Now, each team can sign only 25 players each year and is not permitted to replace those who do not qualify.

“If you lose four grad transfers and two others transfer, you can only sign 25,” Rolovich said. “You’ll never get back to a healthy roster for a few years. The timeline of college coaches, that really could be detrimental, not only to the program, but with the coach’s ability to establish a culture and establish how he wants the program to be run.”

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Rolovich said the hard-25 rule forces teams to take fewer chances on high school students with borderline grades and test scores.

“I agree with the main goal of making players college-ready and graduating them,” Rolovich said. “But I also think there are kids who haven’t had the educational background of other kids … and if they make the grade late, they should have the same opportunities. Before you were able to take chances on guys, ‘hey, you can do this in your eighth semester.’ Now you have to be sure earlier.”

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