LAS COLINAS, Texas — Maybe leadership in the Big 12 Conference got the message.
After voting down a rule change on Wednesday that would allow non-scholarship athletes to transfer to other schools within the conference, a request was made to modify language in the proposal, and Big 12 athletic directors are reconsidering the new proposal, according to ESPN.com.
On Thursday, during day two of the league’s annual spring meetings — one day after the measure failed to gain a simple majority and was voted down 5-5 — ADs heard a new proposal, according to unnamed sources in the report, that would allow a student-athlete to transfer without having to lose a year of eligibility as long as the student-athlete was not offered a scholarship by his or her original school.
If the original school does offer a scholarship, the walk-on would lose a year of eligibility if he or she elects to transfer within the conference.
The rule is informally called the “Baker Mayfield Rule” because University of Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield transferred to OU as a walk-on after walking on at Texas Tech. After sitting out 2014 as a transfer, Mayfield won the starting job in 2015 and became an instant sensation, leading the Sooners to the Big 12 championship and College Football Playoff and finishing fourth in the Heisman Trophy balloting. All appeals to regain his lost year, however, have been denied.
OU athletic director Joe Castiglione said on Wednesday evening, after the measure failed, that he would not give up.
“We’re going to continue to seek ways to move this change forward. We are absolutely committed to seeing this through,” Castiglione said. “If we could learn tonight (Wednesday) or tomorrow morning (Thursday) we could have a further discussion that might lead to a vote of some type, we’ll try it.
“If we’re not able to pursue any options this next day or so while the meetings are going on, then we still have time. There are meetings in the summer and meetings scheduled for September that would give us and student-athletes in this academic year … options before it gets too late. There’s still some time. We’re not in total control of the situation, but we’re trying to use every effort possible to get this rule modified.”
If the new rule is not approved, Mayfield would not get back that lost year of eligibility and would finish his Big 12 career this upcoming season.
NCAA rules, however, allow for student-athletes to transfer without restrictions after graduation if they have not already played four years. If Mayfield graduates and can’t play at OU (or elsewhere in the Big 12) in 2017, he could transfer to any other Division I school in the country that offers a postgraduate degree program not offered at OU and would be eligible immediately.
“I’m incredibly disappointed the rule change proposal wasn’t passed today at Big 12 meetings,” Stoops said. “I hope the conference will reconsider its decision and put the welfare of student-athletes first. It only makes sense for the Big 12’s rules to be consistent with those of the NCAA when it comes to non-scholarship walk-on student-athletes. Yes, today’s vote impacts Baker Mayfield, but in reality this is about all student-athletes in all sports at Big 12 schools. Again, I’m disappointed for Baker, but also for anyone down the road who may be negatively impacted by today’s vote.”
Big 12 faculty athletic representatives’ decision to vote down the initial proposal ignited a firestorm of complaints about the league’s unwillingness to accommodate student-athletes, and was perceived by many OU fans as another slap in the face and another reason to seek membership in another conference.