The NCAA’s eligibility rules are infamous for being needlessly complicated and, more often than not, putting student-athletes at the disadvantage. Those very same rules, however, will allow one former Mountaineer to keep playing football for just a little bit longer.
As reported by Mike Casazza of 247Sports, former Mountaineer middle linebacker Shea Campbell has entered into the transfer portal. Campbell, a five-year member of the Mountaineers, should be out of collegiate eligibility and actually participated in WVU’s senior day this past season. The reason Campbell can transfer take advantage of a discrepancy between how Division I and Division II handle eligibility.
Again, as reported by Casazza, in Division I, players are on a five-year clock in which they can play four seasons. Campbell, a walk-on at WVU in 2015, has exhausted those five years, despite only ever playing in two seasons, 2018 and 2019. Division II, however, bases eligibility off of semesters. Players have 10 semesters (the equivalent of five years) to plays four seasons. Because Campbell graduated from WVU this past December he only used nine of his 10 semesters and thus can enroll at a Division II school in the fall as his 10th semester to play one more season.
While not exactly a loophole, this certainly takes advantage of some holes in the NCAA’s handling of student-athletes’ eligibility. This is also a scenario that you do not see very often, a Division I-caliber player opting to play down two levels of competition just to get one more season in. Campbel, a Morgantown native, found meaningful playing time in each of the last two seasons of his WVU career. Between 2018 and 2019 Campbell played in 22 games, totaling 80 tackles, 11.5 for a loss.
A similar situation occurred at Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania in 2017. An offensive lineman from Northwestern, Ian Park, was injured for his entire redshirt-senior, depleting his Division I eligibility. Instead of applying for a medical redshirt to get that season back, he chose to transfer down to Slippery Rock, a place where he knew he would start, in hopes or rebuilding his draft stock. Park got a shot at the NFL with the Eagles but did not stick. He was named a First-Team All-Conference player his only season at The Rock and ended up playing professionally in Japan.
Campbell will have to take a similar path, transferring down to whichever Division II school he chooses to play for one final season.