Lynch applying for hardship waiver at USF

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As you’d expect, Notre Dame transfer Aaron Lynch is hoping to receive immediate eligibility at South Florida. The former freshman All-American provided the biggest news of the offseason when he walked away from the Irish in the middle of spring practice, quitting the team. He finished out the semester before enrolling at South Florida over the summer.

Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times has more from USF head coach Skip Holtz:

“They’re compiling everything and putting it together. Once it’s submitted, it will be ruled on rather quickly,” Holtz told the Times. “Just trying to get all the letters in place and everything else. You have to remember he started here four weeks ago. I would imagine that would be done probably here within the next week.”

Lynch’s departure from Notre Dame, and the ensuing soap opera, has been well chronicled, which might actually be to the detriment of Lynch’s eligibility case.

Defining the hardship waiver is the first piece of the puzzle. John Infante, author of the NCAA’s Bylaw Blog, defines the hardship waiver as something for “student-athletes who are compelled to transfer because of financial hardship or an injury or illness to the student-athlete or a member of their family.”

Obviously, that doesn’t seem to be the case with Lynch. Then again, it didn’t seem to be the case with running back Amir Carlisle, who was granted immediate eligibility after his family uprooted to Indiana after his father took over as the head of Purdue’s strength department.

Eamonn Brennan of ESPN has a breakdown of undergraduate transfer waivers and how often they are granted in college football, and the numbers show that it’s pretty much a 50/50 proposition:

Football

Graduate student transfer waivers:
81 approved
3 denied

Undergraduate transfer waivers:
85 approved
86 denied

The graduate student transfer waiver is allowing Dayne Crist, Mike Ragone, Anthony McDonald, Brandon Newman, Deion Walker, and Hafis Williams to continue their careers, playing out their eligibility after graduating from Notre Dame. Lynch’s case is an entirely different story.

Lynch returning home to South Florida seems to be a data-point that would seemingly support his chances of gaining immediate eligibility. Yet the fact that his mother adamantly disagreed with the decision makes that a tougher angle to pursue.

Pushed for clarification on the rule, the NCAA’s Cameron Schuh didn’t have any clear-cut answer for how the NCAA reaches its decisions.

“There are a number of factors that are considered with the criteria, some of which include the relationship of the individual to the student-athlete and proximity from transferring institution to where the individual lives/is being treated, to name a couple,” Schuh said in an email to ESPN. “Each case is reviewed and determined based on its own merits, so it would not be accurate for me to say if any one factor is weighted more than another nor if cases that look similar on the surface have different outcomes.”

From a football perspective, having Lynch available this fall for duty would be a huge lift to the USF program. It’d also represent a somewhat dangerous precedent, with the morphing of a hardship to include a student-athlete seemingly going against their parent’s wishes to play closer to his girlfriend and friends back home.

Lynch most certainly has the right to play football wherever he wants. Unfortunately for Lynch, the Bulls and Skip Holtz, it might not be until 2013.