Athletes can transfer within American, but at a cost
The American Athletic Conference has approved its league policy for athletes who seek to transfer from one member school to another, with a significant shift from the Big East's stance.
The league's athletic directors, meeting in Rhode Island last month, approved a policy that allows athletes in all sports to transfer from one member school to another, providing the athlete sits out one season (as already required by the NCAA) and additionally surrenders an additional year of eligibility. The latter part of that, in place with other leagues, is fairly prohibitive -- for example, an athlete who played as a true freshman at Memphis could transfer to SMU, but only after sitting out a year, and then having only two years of remaining eligibility instead of three.
This is a contrast to the existing Big East policy, which did not allow an athlete in football or men's or women's basketball to compete for any other member schools once they'd enrolled at one Big East school. The new measure now treats from athletes from all sports the same, instead of applying stricter rules for higher-profile sports.
The American does provide a loophole for indirect transfers -- the "4-2-4" athletes who start at one American school and transfer to a junior college and earn an Associate of Arts degree can then transfer to a second American school without having to surrender any eligibility. This is essentially what Cam Newton did in playing at Florida in 2007-08, attending Blinn College in 2009 and then playing for Auburn in 2010.
Schools are subject to these restrictions only once they've officially joined the league. So to use a timely example, former USF receiver D'Vario Montgomery, who is from Winter Park, could transfer to nearby UCF if he wanted to, but he would have only two years of eligibility starting in 2014; by comparison, if he transferred this fall to East Carolina, which doesn't join the American until next year, he could play in 2014 with a full three years of eligibility.