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UAAP contemplates changes to eligibility rules for transferees

The UAAP Board of Trustees is having discussions for possible changes to league rules when it comes to eligibility for players who transfer from one member school to another, it was confirmed on Wednesday, May 29.

League executive director Rebo Saguisag acknowledged this in a press conference held following the closing ceremonies for UAAP Season 86 at the Mall of Asia Arena.

According to league sources who spoke to All-Star Magazine under the condition of anonymity, under a proposed new rule, student-athletes will still have to sit out one UAAP season after transferring from one school to another, but moving forward, two out of their five total playing eligibility years will be deducted.

So, for example: if a sophomore (second-year student-athlete) transfers to another UAAP school, he or she will only have one year of eligibility left in the collegiate league.

Under the current rule, only one season is deducted from their eligibility.

Saguisag did not confirm or deny this development, saying he wasn’t permitted to do so because of the law, but offered some perspective on the matter:

“We have been studying this situation. I think for all you following UAAP, [you know] there has been a growing concern on what may be perceived as poaching and piracy.

“I don’t want to preempt the Board of Trustees. They will come up with a statement. But what’s important is if you come up with a rule, it should always be perspective in application. You cannot penalize anyone or punish anyone for an act before it was declared to be illegal or against the rules.”

What Saguisag likely meant by saying that is a rule change, assuming it pushes through, will only apply to student-athletes who will transfer in the future, so theoretically those who already moved educational institutions previously – like Rey Remogat or Kean Baclaan – will still fall under the old rules.

“We’ll come up with a statement,” Saguisag said, promising there will be clarity from the league in the near future. “Ang haba ng debates. Very spirited discussions [are taking place].”

The new rule, according to sources, will only apply to those who transfer from one UAAP school to another. Furthermore, special circumstances such as a varsity program being discontinued or league-wide suspension (like during the COVID-19 pandemic) would exempt student-athletes from this possible new development.

“The Board of Trustees is a collegial body. We decide as a body, not as individuals,” UP President Jijil Jimenez gave his insight during the press conference.

“We deliberate every time we meet. There will definitely be difference of opinions because we are different people. We will try to drive home as strongly as we can the perspective of our schools, but we are not there to dominate anyone.”

He added that: “However much the division, the intensity, the passion in which everyone in the board would try to push their perspective, at the end of the day, the board is more important than the individual members.”

This possible shift would come at a time where changing allegiances has become more common than ever in the collegiate basketball scene, much to the disdain of students, alumni, and fans of schools who have seen notable players leave their respective programs.

Of course, there’s also the other side of the matter: is this possible change harmful to student-athletes who move from one university to another for better opportunities to portray their abilities, among other genuine reasons?

The complexity of the situation is why discussions continue to take place. Further clarity will become available when the aforementioned statement is released.

UAAP Season 87 is expected to commence on September 7, 2024.

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