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OPINION: Three Reasons the NCAA Should Grant Jay Heath’s Transfer Waiver

What is taking so long? Let him play for the Hoyas!

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Arizona State v Creighton Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

It’s November 1st and the Georgetown Hoyas apparently still don’t know whether Arizona State transfer Jay Heath will be able to play next week when the Hoyas open against Coppin State. Last week, Patrick Ewing revealed that they are still waiting on the waiver and the roster could be down another guard as Dante Harris is away from the program on personal matters. Ewing and the Hoyas could use the 6’3” D.C. native Heath as soon as possible. More importantly, it would be fair and equitable in this era of college basketball to let Jay Heath play this year.

Ewing’s “hoping and praying” statement is about the most that fans and writers have heard on the Heath-transfer-waiver situation. Qudus Wahab received his waiver in late August. Presumably, Wahab’s waiver request was more clear-cut and based on Maryland’s coaching changes. Previous coaching changes appear to almost always qualify for a rubber stamp from the NCAA. The question is, what happens to other two-time transfers?

Transfer Waivers Generally

Acceptance of a transfer waiver request by the NCAA is said to still be on a case-by-case basis, but the decision appears to hinge on the provided mitigation reasons as to why a transfer year-in-residency should not be enforced.

Back in the times before the Transfer Portal and the One-time Transfer Exemption, new teams had to request a waiver on every undergraduate transfer. There were many years of players waiting until the autumn to receive word on the waiver request. The NCAA Division I Committee has released some information about the transfer waiver process, but the substantive decision process of applying for a waiver is still left open to non-transparent human elements.

NCAA DI Waiver Transfer Process (Feb 2019)

Initially, according to the 2019 flow charts, the waiver application goes to NCAA staff for a first decision on the waiver application before the student-athlete and school are allowed to appeal to the Division I Committee for Legislative Relief. The NCAA staff reviewer makes sure the academic records are in order, reviews the previous school’s position and considers the mitigation rationale asserted by the new school. That initial decision may be approved or denied. Prior to appeal, the school may request reconsideration from the NCAA staff member, updating the application with any new information.

NCAA DI Waiver Transfer Process (Feb 2019)

If the student-athlete’s paperwork is in order, the key substantive question appears to be what offered mitigation reasons qualify for a transfer waiver.

Another NCAA Guidelines document states that “For a waiver to be granted, an institution must demonstrate that the student-athlete’s transfer is due to documented extenuating, extraordinary and mitigating circumstances outside of the student athlete’s control that directly impacts the health, safety or well-being of the student-athlete.” The same document offers examples such as:

  • mental health
  • no participation opportunity at previous institution
  • egregious behavior (from coach, teammates, admin) while enrolled at the previous institution
  • student-athlete injury or illness
  • family member injury or illness
  • financial hardship, pregnancy/birth
  • death of an immediate family member
  • academic reasons (e.g., change programs/majors)
  • misinformation from the previous school
  • disabilities

Judging by the time-frame, and inferring from Ewing’s “hoping and praying we’ll win the waiver” comment, the waiver request for Jay Heath is most likely at the reconsideration and/or appeal stages. Unless gathering the paperwork and filing the waiver request happened very late—”the standard processing time is typically three weeks”—the fact that we’re a week away from games seems to indicate an initial decision was likely unfavorable.

If Heath’s waiver is under appeal, the decision comes down to the seven members of the Division I Committee for Legislative Relief. The committee considers (1) the purpose or intent of the legislation, (2) whether there is a competitive or recruiting advantage gained through the waiver process, and (3) the involvement and the overall well-being of the student-athlete. In the transfer portal era, where so many student-athletes are getting a waiver for their second transfer, it seems rather arbitrary and capricious to block only a few.

Fans have no way of knowing what Jay Heath’s proposed mitigation factor(s) are—and they should be left private. What fans can plainly see are three key reasons why the Heath waiver request should be granted.

Per Game Table
2019-20 Boston College ACC 31 30 33.3 4.8 11.4 .421 2.7 5.8 .464 2.1 5.6 .376 1.4 2.5 .551 0.6 2.7 3.4 2.1 1.3 0.1 2.2 2.4 13.1 7.86
2020-21 Boston College ACC 19 19 33.8 5.4 13.2 .412 3.2 6.8 .469 2.2 6.3 .350 1.5 1.9 .778 0.7 2.4 3.1 1.8 0.8 0.1 2.1 1.7 14.5 8.97
2021-22 Arizona State Pac-12 28 17 28.4 3.8 8.9 .423 2.1 5.0 .418 1.6 3.8 .430 1.4 1.9 .741 0.5 2.8 3.3 1.8 0.8 0.0 1.5 1.5 10.6 9.48
Career Overall 78 66 31.6 4.6 10.9 .419 2.6 5.8 .451 2.0 5.1 .383 1.4 2.2 .661 0.6 2.7 3.3 1.9 1.0 0.1 1.9 1.9 12.5 8.77
Boston College 50 49 33.5 5.0 12.1 .417 2.9 6.2 .466 2.1 5.9 .365 1.4 2.3 .623 0.6 2.6 3.3 2.0 1.1 0.1 2.2 2.1 13.6
Arizona State 28 17 28.4 3.8 8.9 .423 2.1 5.0 .418 1.6 3.8 .430 1.4 1.9 .741 0.5 2.8 3.3 1.8 0.8 0.0 1.5 1.5 10.6
Provided by CBB at Sports Reference: View Original Table
Generated 11/1/2022.

1. Jay Heath came home to Washington, D.C.

Jay Heath hails from D.C. and Woodrow Wilson High School (now named Jackson-Reed High School). That high school is only a few blocks away from two of my favorite places in DC—Politics and Prose Bookstore and Tenleytown Liquors. Regardless of how much time I spent in either, the proximity is undeniable. Returning home to Georgetown seems perfect for this young man.

Heath told GUHoyas that “I wanted to get back home to DC and Georgetown and the coaching staff gave me the opportunity to do that” and that “I’m part of a close family and it means a lot to me that I can see them more and be closer to my support system.”

Again, fans and the media do not know the full story on Jay Heath’s request for a transfer waiver, nor should we, but it seems safe to say that being near home in Washington D.C. is a positive for the student-athlete and should influence a host of potential mitigating factors. For instance, being near home and family can improve mental health, physical health, family health, financial hardship, academics, and more.

The NCAA should consider coming home to weigh heavily in Heath’s favor.

2. The NCAA rules for limiting transfers will eventually be eliminated

Currently, there is a “one-time transfer” rule that allows a student-athlete (complying with the rules) to transfer from one school to another without sitting out a season in residency or applying for a waiver.

Over the summer, according to Nicole Auerbach of The Athletic, the Division I Council endorsed the elimination of the one-time transfer rule as part of a transfer reform package that included the implementation of transfer windows and other requirements. While the new rule (in that form) was not ready for a vote at at the end of August, new rules for three notification-of-transfer windows are likely coming. Student-athletes in good academic standing will inevitably be allowed to transfer multiple times.

The question now is, why would the NCAA Division I Committee for Legislative Relief make an adverse decision for a student-athlete in 2022 knowing the rule is likely to change soon? Clearly, if the Division I Council endorsed the elimination of the one-time transfer rule, it would be just and equitable for the Committee for Legislative Relief to provide the waiver as a stopgap measure until the rule is struck down. The year-in-residency rule has lost it’s purpose and intent.

3. Arizona State is a weak academic school and no one should have to suffer with Bobby Hurley

No one should be forced to stay at Arizona State University with Bobby Hurley. ASU in Tempe, Arizona is known as a party school and, according to US News, has an undergraduate enrollment of nearly 65,000 students and is #121 out of 443 universities. ASU has an acceptance rate of 88%, which is generally considered super high. By several accounts, many of the graduate programs at ASU are terrific, but the lack of selectivity for the undergrad programs makes ASU a less-than-stellar academic institution.

The large academic upgrade to Georgetown should positively influence the NCAA Committee. Moreover, Heath coming from Boston College—a good academic school with horrible sports—prior to ASU may suggest that there was some academic epiphany for Heath while partying at attending ASU.

Potentially ASU or coach Bobby Hurley could have mucked up some paperwork to trigger the delay. The rumors that the Hurley brothers might be colluding—mostly spread by me and some Twitter trolls—are likely false. Still, Bobby Hurley does not have a great reputation. relayed that “Hurley is one of the most animated coaches in all of college basketball,” “[h]e’s known for not only visibly reacting to calls made by officials, but he will also spend more than just a few seconds raising his voice to a referee to let him know how he disagrees,” and “[h]e has had a few technical fouls and ejections on his record with the Sun Devils, and it’s hard not to feel, at times, that his actions are a bit much.” Can you imagine this guy at practice? That certainly should be considered something that “directly impacts the health, safety or well-being of the student-athlete.”

Last January, Jay Heath apparently followed Hurley’s lead in an altercation with an official. Hurley was fined $20,000 for his verbal confrontation with an official trying to leave the court and Heath was accused of “making contact with an official attempting to exit the court.” Heath was suspended one game. Hurley and ASU were evidently not the best influences on Heath.

Let’s see if the NCAA agrees that being closer to home, at a better academic school, and away from ASU and Bobby Hurley, will help Heath’s overall wellness. That waiver should be granted.

Further NCAA waiver reading:

April Press Release by GUHoyas:

Hoyas Add Jay Heath to 2022-23 Roster

WASHINGTON – Georgetown University men’s basketball has announced the addition of Jay Heath to its 2022-23 roster. Heath was most recently at Arizona State (2021-22) and was previously at Boston College (2019-20, 2020-21). The 6-foot-3 guard is a native Washingtonian who played the final two years of his career at Woodrow Wilson High School.


“We’re excited to bring in Jay Heath - he adds versatility and scoring. His experience and toughness will make him a key part of our team next season” - Head Coach Patrick Ewing on Jay Heath

“Georgetown was the right fit for me. More than anything, I wanted to get back home to DC and Georgetown and the coaching staff gave me the opportunity to do that. I’m part of a close family and it means a lot to me that I can see them more and be closer to my support system.” - Jay Heath on his decision to attend Georgetown

JAY HEATH (GUARD / 6-3 / 195)

  • At Arizona State (2021-22) was second on the team in scoring (10.6 ppg), appearing in 28 games with 17 starts to his credit.
  • The DC native scored in double figures 17 times for the Sun Devils, including a season-best 20 points in a 63-61 win over Utah on February 26, 2022.
  • During the 2020-21 season, Heath was Boston College’s leading scorer (14.5 ppg) while averaging 33.6 mpg.
  • Scored a career-high 28 at Florida State on March 3, 2021 with eight 3-pointers and posted five 20-point games during the 2020-21 season.
  • During the 2019-20 season, he averaged 13.1 ppg (second on team) including 26 double-figure scoring games, including 15 straight to close the season.
  • He set a Boston College freshman record with 65 made 3-pointers in 2019-20.
  • At Wilson, he was named to the 2018-19 Washington Post All-Met First Team and was a two-time DCIAA First Team All-City selection as a junior and senior.
  • As a senior, he averaged 14.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists, and 2.0 steals per game.
  • Helped Wilson capture its third-consecutive DCIAA Championship in 2019.