Breaking down the issues with Colorado football’s academic transfer requirements

The University of Colorado football program hasn’t exactly had the best year with the NCAA transfer portal.

Colorado watched several top players depart, and while that provided ample opportunity in Boulder, the Buffs couldn’t come close to recouping their losses. Nothing here is black and white, but the unique academic requirements for transfer to CU appear to be a major factor uncovered in recent months.

CU at the Game, a popular fan site, recently looked into the issue and how it impacted the buffs. Below is a brief summary of the main takeaways:

Chancellor Phil DiStefano’s response to why Colorado is struggling to secure transfers:

“I don’t think it’s about changing rules and policies. I believe that great academics and great student athletes can come together. They are not mutually exclusive.

“On the transfer piece it’s just based on the degrees we offer. And the way this faculty owns the curriculum, they own the degrees, so if a student wants to transfer, for example, we don’t have physical education here and we don’t have general education, and to be honest that’s not going to change .

“What we need to do is recruit these student-athletes from junior colleges who can play for us and transfer the credits. It might take a little more work, but I have faith in our coaches to be able to do it. I mean, we brought in transfers and it worked. And I think we will continue to bring in transfers, just the transfers have to have the transfer credits that are being transferred.”

progress to completion

From CU at game:

You’ll be hearing a lot about it over the next two months PTD – Progress to completion. This is not a new term and the rules have been in place for some time. The NCAA requires all student-athletes to progress in the classroom to maintain eligibility:

  • Freshman (2 semesters) = 20% of degree (24 credits)

  • Sophomore (4 semesters) = 40% of the degree (48 credits)

  • Junior (6 semesters) = 60% of the degree (72 credits)

  • Senior (8 semesters) = 80% of the degree (96 credits)

So far, so good. No problem for CU coaches and players as this is an NCAA guideline that everyone uses and lives with annually.

How CU loses on potential transfers

As Phil DiStefano sneered at, CU does not have a PE or General Studies degree. Most other schools, including most of the AAU schools that CU is happy to associate with, have general education and/or integrated degrees. As a result transfer between this Schools much easier as they offer many of the same courses.

Simply put, CU does not offer certain programs that are popular with student athletes.

What that entails

…the percentage of non-graduate transfers that can successfully find their way through CU’s Admissions Office is painfully low. Adam Munsterteiger of BuffStampede.com reported that last offseason, CU coaches submitted a list of 11 wide receiver transfer candidates for academic evaluation, only four came back with CU approval for recruitment.

what can be done

The shortest way between two points is to add an integrated degree, which makes credit transfer easier. The only other Power Five schools with similar academic restrictions are Stanford and Vanderbilt. The Commodores have SEC funds but still can’t compete regularly, while Stanford has fallen off a cliff in recent seasons… do you think that’s because David Shaw forgot how to train?

When Brian Howell asked Chancellor DiStefano if he could add an integrated major, noting that Michigan — a respected AAU school — had such a program, DiStefano responded with surprise and said he would look into it.

DiStefano seems content to maintain current academic standards and could even be handcuffed by the university on some counts. As already mentioned, the buffs could have their luck with JUCO transfers for the time being.

Another possible solution

A second option used by other schools…gives student-athletes an opportunity to “catch up”. Accept the student with the understanding that they do not have all the required credits in their major but are otherwise in good standing. Then give them a year (two in some schools) to “catch up” on credits in their major.

Social media play a role:

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