The Southeastern Conference has announced that former Alabama defensive back Maurice Smith has been granted a conditional waiver to transfer to the University of Georgia.
Commissioner Greg Sankey released a statement.
“Graduate transfer rules were established with the intent to be grounded in the academic interests of the student-athlete,” said SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey. “This conditional waiver permits Maurice Smith to receive financial aid to pursue his stated academic goals at the school of his choice while connecting his athletic participation directly to those goals.”
The University of Georgia requested the conference make an exception to two SEC bylaws for Smith, one that requires incoming transfers to have at least two years of eligibility remaining and the second that requires student-athletes who transfer from one SEC school to another SEC school to sit out a full academic year prior to competing.
The waiver grants Smith a graduate-student exemption to SEC Bylaw 14.1.15 (two-year eligibility) and also grants provisional relief to SEC Bylaw 126.96.36.199 (transferring within the SEC).
“Our SEC institutions adopted the intra-conference transfer rule in 2000 due to concerns that the transfer of current student-athletes within the conference would be viewed as unhealthy for student-athletes, the institutions and the conference alike, so this waiver is not granted lightly,” Sankey said. “The University of Alabama vigorously defended this SEC rule for good reason and has assisted this process in every way. The current rule places our coaches and administrators in untenable situations so it is time for us to address graduate transfer rules. An individual university does not possess the authority to activate that change, so adherence to these rules and the process by which exceptions are sought remain critical for every institution in the SEC.”
Should Smith not complete nine hours of coursework in 2016, he won’t be eligible for the postseason. Should he fail to graduate prior to the 2018-19 academic year, the University of Georgia can’t request another waiver like this until the beginning of the 2021-22 academic year or Smith’s graduation from the graduate program, whichever is first.