SEC rule change could clear way for Malik Zaire to join Florida

Previously, the rules prevented league schools from signing graduate transfers for three years if one did not earn all the April points.

The Southeastern Conference voted on Friday to tweak a rule involving graduate transfers. The Florida Gators were penalized previous year after Mason Halter and Anthony Harrell failed to meet their academic requirements in 2015.

At the annual SEC meetings, the conference altered a graduate transfer rule that would have kept Zaire from enrolling it Gainesville had it remained in place.

The ease of restrictions could impact Florida immediately.

Florida took two graduate transfers in 2013 who failed to qualify, which resulted in a three-year ban on the Gators accepting such players.

Both Zaire and DeShone Kizer played in Notre Dame's loss to Texas in last year's season opener, as coach Brian Kelly always has been open to using multiple quarterbacks and was trying to find a permanent starter. Zaire had 816 passing yards and six touchdowns in limited action in three seasons in South Bend, Indiana.

"It was early on in the grad transfer process and there were some high-profile situations ... and we kind of got out in front of everybody else", Stricklin said.

Zaire hasn't made his final decision but reportedly was waiting to see what the SEC did before making his pick. Georgia suggested the legislation after Alabama initially balked at letting defensive back Maurice Smith transfer to the Bulldogs in 2016.

"We have an NCAA transfer working group and there's an interest in seeing what ideas might be generated nationally", Sankey said.

A related piece of graduate transfer legislation that was ratified is that a student-athlete who arrived to an SEC program via a previous transfer will not be allowed for an intraconference transfer waiver. "We've not now changed our policy, but it's one of those things that will be under discussion".

  • Larry Hoffman