Three days after entering the NCAA transfer portal and two days after signing an aid agreement with the Texas Longhorns, former USC Trojans wide receiver Bru McCoy flew from Los Angeles to Austin on Sunday to begin his career on the Forty Acres:
So, as initially anticipated, McCoy will enroll in classes at Texas this week.
Meanwhile, back in Los Angeles, embattled USC head coach Clay Helton is trying to deal with the fallout from the nation’s No. 9 prospect spending only a handful of days in his program:
I hear Clay Helton told the team that Bru McCoy left #USC "for family reasons" and they didn't buy the explanation— InsideUSC (@InsideUSC) January 27, 2019
To be fair to Helton, this may be the explanation given to him by McCoy and his family — and there’s a reason for that. Especially if that information was relayed electronically, the family could use it to build their case for the NCAA to give McCoy a hardship waiver to gain immediate eligibility at Texas.
The situation was complicated when McCoy decided to leave USC, as the Trojans had to let him out of his National Letter of Intent, but because he had started classes already, that triggered the need for an NCAA transfer, too. Had McCoy merely signed his NLI without enrolling in classes, his eligibility would be much more straight forward. In fact, he would be eligible to play at Texas immediately, as he would only need USC to release him from his NLI.
Instead, McCoy will now have to make a much more difficult case to the NCAA. Since he wasn’t injured, he doesn’t have that option, leaving the family hardship waiver as the only option. Since McCoy is from Los Angeles, that’s going to significantly complicate the case the McCoys will try to make — these waivers are for student-athletes who need to transfer to assist an ill or injured family member and are often denied when involving an extended family member.
What Helton told the Trojans team may be the first sign of that strategy. Unfortunately for McCoy and for Texas, the current NCAA rules aren’t designed to effectively deal with the consequences of the early signing period as they related to a player like McCoy who signs early, then enrolls in the midst of an important coaching change.
Update (Monday 3:40 p.m. Central): So, after doing some more research, under the current NCAA rules, I think there’s an option other than family hardship. Last spring, the NCAA approved an amendment to the transfer waiver guidelines:
”The transfer is due to documented mitigating circumstances that are outside the student-athlete’s control and directly impact the health, safety and well-being of the student-athlete.”
This rule requires that the previous institution’s athletics administration does not oppose the transfer, though I’m not positive if that still applies with the new transfer rules that were put into effect after this amendment.
More importantly, this particular amendment was how Shea Patterson became eligible at Michigan immediately. According to a statement released by Michigan and Ole Miss, the schools worked together with the NCAA and submitted a new waiver application for Patterson after the amendment was passed, which the NCAAapproved. Patterson had claimed that he was misled about NCAA sanctions by the previous Ole Miss staff. The statement said that the schools and NCAA worked together “with a focus on student-athlete well-being.”
That’s the aspect of that amendment that provides the most latitude for interpretation. So the McCoy family may have a good argument there that the departure of Kliff Kingsbury and his dishonesty during the recruiting process negatively impacted his well-being. It’s a slightly different situation than what Patterson and his teammates went through at Ole Miss, but I think it’s close enough and indicates that the NCAA has relaxed waiver requirements. I hadn’t followed this situation particularly closely at the time, so I didn’t immediately make the connection that McCoy and his family could use it, as some of the resources that are available about the transfer process haven’t been updated to reflect his new amendment.
I’m much more optimistic about the possibility that McCoy will be eligible to play for Texas this season based on this amendment.