NCAA Adds Common Sense and Inconsistency to Transfer Waivers

Michigan’s statement that QB Shea Patterson would be eligible this year following his transfer from Mississippi included a pretty vague tidbit about how it happened:

The NCAA Division I Council recently approved an amendment to transfer waiver guidelines for student-athletes seeking immediate eligibility following a transfer. This amendment was effective April 18, for transferring student-athletes who are seeking immediate eligibility for the 2018-19 academic year.

To track down that change, I went to the NCAA’s website and looked for the most recent report from the meetings of the Division I Council. Lo and behold, there it was (Key Item #5):

Specifically, immediate eligibility may be provided to a transfer
student-athlete, provided: (Fairness/Well-Being/Operational)

  1. The transfer is due to documented mitigating circumstances that are outside the student-athlete’s control and directly impact the health, safety and well-being of the student-athlete;
  2. At the time of transfer to the certifying institution, the student-athlete would have been athletically and academically eligible and in good standing on the team had he or she remained at the previous institution;
  3. The certifying institution must certify that the student-athlete meets percentage-of degree requirements; and
  4. The previous institution’s athletics administration does not oppose the transfer.

That matches with the rest of Michigan’s statement, which said it dropped the existing waiver application in favor of this “cooperative approach”; note that the waiver guidelines include that the previous institution must not object to the transfer.

But the highlighted part of the guidelines is the meat of the change. It’s almost a throwback to the old days of transfer waivers in sports like football or men’s basketball where any athlete that was moving any closer to an ailing relative, however distant in relation or actual distance, would ask for a waiver to play immediately. That lead to claims of inconsistent decisions and unfair treatment, so the NCAA introduced stricter guidelines, eventually requiring the family member to basically be an immediate family member and the student-athlete demonstrate they would be heavily involved in their care.

The reason for this change seems obvious against the background of the work being done by the Transfer Working Group. It’s probable that within a year or two, all or at least many football and basketball players will be able to transfer and play immediately. In the meantime, situations will arise that will look extra unfair when the athlete would have been able to transfer just a year or two later. So the NCAA has created a waiver that can sweep up just about any case that would result in negative media attention. “Health” and “safety” would have been fairly limiting, but “well-being” opens up the possibilities of how this waiver could be used drastically.

For those who constantly suggest the NCAA appoint a “VP of Common Sense” to fix things like obviously unfair situations created by the transfer rules, this waiver is right along those lines. But what it also does it create more apparent inconsistency in who gets a waiver to play right away and who doesn’t. That circumstances must be outside the student-athlete’s control and that the circumstances be documented will trip up some waiver applications. We can also expect that since the guidelines are new and may not have even been noticed by coaches and compliance professionals until now, there may be a glut of waiver applications coming for any transfer athlete this summer who can put together even a remotely plausible case for a waiver.

If this situation exists for a summer or two before new transfer legislation makes this waiver obsolete, it won’t be a huge problem. But if changes to the transfer residency requirement don’t come into effect before August 1, 2020 or the legislation goes in the direction of removing the one-time transfer exception from the sports that have it rather than extending it to the sports that don’t in some form, these guidelines will have to updated or the NCAA will be back in the position of having to defend or modify a process that the public can’t help but see as inconsistent, even arbitrary.

The Immediate Benefit of Sleep Training

We started sleep training Bean this week, and so far things are going well. It has not gone quite as smoothly as the early progression seems like it would, but it seems to have worked well at overcoming the four month sleep regression. She went from sleeping two hours max at a time to now mostly waking up only twice a night for feeding, with maybe one additional wake-up that we give her a chance to self-soothe.

But even if it had been more of a struggle, there’s one major benefit that has shown itself almost immediately. Bedtime is now a defined and limited time.

When you are putting a baby fully to sleep before putting them down for the night (if you can), bedtime is an undefined and potentially unlimited amount of time. Hit the wrong side of the “just tired enough” window and you could be in the room or back and forth for hours to get even a decent sleeper down for the night. Now though we have a set bedtime and routine that starts at 6:15 and goes like this:

  1. Turn on white noise machine
  2. Check/change diaper
  3. Change into pajamas
  4. Get into swaddle sleep sack with arms out
  5. Bedtime bottle
  6. Book (currently “Goodnight Moon”)
  7. Song (currently “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”)
  8. In crib, lights out, say goodnight, leave

The only real variable in time here is how long it takes Bean to finish her bottle. Otherwise everything takes basically the same amount of time each night and everything moves along rather smoothly so far.

What this means is that when it’s time for bed, it’s no longer a question of whether I or my wife will get a chance to shower, a chance to unwind, or a chance to spend time together. That makes bedtime much less stressful because there’s no longer a chance that one of us will be stuck in there for hours trying to get her to fall asleep enough to set down or heading back in the room for another 30 minute session of rocking and/or nursing to get her to fall back asleep again. Sure, one of us might be in there every 10 minutes, but it’s only for a minute or two to calm and reassure her, and then it’s another 10 minutes minimum before we open the door again.

Maybe I would look at bedtime differently if my half-hour maximum routine was followed by hours of crying. But even if it was (maybe especially if it was), I think you can look on the bright side of even those struggles and realize that after a few months of needing to block out the whole night once it’s time to put the baby to bed, you can get a little bit of your life back, even if it’s only for a few minutes at a time and has the soundtrack of crying.