Washington quarterback Colson Yankoff recently became the first football player to take advantage of the Pac-12’s new transfer rule, which is designed to grant the same eligibility rights to players moving within the conference as those moving between conferences.

The rule was announced May 20, following approval by the chancellors and presidents, and took effect immediately.

Two weeks later, UCLA made Yankoff’s transfer official via its Twitter account.

He’s expected to sit out this fall, then play in 2020 with three years of eligibility.

The development allows us to provide a morsel of clarity and context.

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When announcing the change, the Pac-12 explained that it was eliminating the “loss of season penalty” that accompanied intra-conference transfers.


Previously, an undergraduate in Yankoff’s position would have missed two seasons once his move to Westwood was complete:

  • The first to establish residency — the NCAA rule that applies everywhere.
  • The second as the “loss of season” penalty — the Pac-12 rule for intra-conference moves.

Exceptions were allowed through a waiver process that required approval from the originating school and from the conference’s Faculty Athletics Representatives Council.

The rule announced last month doesn’t change the basic eligibility math (five years to play four, except in cases of extenuating circumstances). But Yankoff won’t lose two seasons: He must establish residency, but there’s no additional Pac-12 penalty.

The change constitutes an important step in freedom-of-movement for athletes. Eventually, however, the NCAA might alter the broader parameters. Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said today, in fact, that all transfers should be forced to sit one year — no exceptions.

How many Pac-12 football players might be impacted each year under the new policy?

Graduate transfers, which have become increasingly frequent, are not required to sit out.


(Defensive lineman Brennan Scarlett left Cal with his degree and played for Stanford the following season; offensive lineman Casey Tucker was eligible immediately for Arizona State after leaving Stanford.)

But intra-conference moves for undergraduates are unusual. Here are the raw numbers for football, per the conference:

2014: 3

2015: 3

2016: 2

2017: 5

2018: 3

Yankoff is the first in 2019. Might there be more in coming years? That seems like a safe bet.