Three SEC players hoped to play football this fall after transferring from another member institution. Commissioner Greg Sankey seemingly squashed their hopes just a few days ahead of the 2020 season.
“There’s a very direct rule that says if you transfer from School A to School B in the SEC, you serve an academic year-of-residence (before you’re eligible),” Sankey said during his appearance on Birmingham JOX 94.5’s The Roundtable last Wednesday. “There are a set of NCAA oddity exceptions. Then in 2018, our membership created two more, one for grad transfers and one for individuals on teams that face postseason bans. And people send in waivers, but one of the questions that should be asked is not what is the commissioner going to do, it’s why haven’t our members voted to change that rule.”
Mark Stoops said SEC presidents are now moving to change that rule.
Speaking to the media two days after the Wildcats lost to Auburn, Stoops revealed that Joey Gatewood did not make the trip to his former school for the game, but there’s hope that could change in the near future. When recruiting Gatewood to UK, Stoops knew there would be hurdles to obtain eligibility. The league presidents are moving to remove those hurdles as we speak.
“I understand both points. The commissioner is correct. When we recruited these student-athletes back to our institutions, we knew the rule,” Stoops said. “We also understood that the landscape in college football is changing. It’s changing everyday. It’s changing every year. I understand both sides. The commissioner was crystal clear with that and I agree with him.
“However, we are trying to get the rule changed and that’s not the head coaches’ decision. It doesn’t matter what we think. We need to talk to our presidents and our presidents are voting on that and it’s my understanding that we’ll have a decision on that relatively quickly, but that’s at the president-level. They’ll make those decisions and us coaches can be vocal or talk about it in every which way we want but that’s not my style to play things out in the media, publicly. I’ll talk to — our people already have put in our vote on what we want to do and I do agree with it because I feel like the rule is going to change anyway. In six months you’re going to have an opportunity to transfer and go anywhere you want, a one-time transfer. I’m in support of that as well.”
If other schools get on board with Kentucky, Stoops believes it’s a “possibility” that Gatewood could play this fall.
Kentucky’s week two opponent, Ole Miss, has a Georgia transfer that hopes to play this season, safety Otis Reese. Down in Knoxville the Volunteers hope to play another Georgia transfer, offensive lineman Cade Mays. When asked about the potential rule change, head coach Jeremy Pruitt said he was unaware of any such vote to eliminate the rule prohibiting intra-conference players from gaining immediate eligibility.