According to several reports last week, Zaire had decided he wanted to become a Gator, but that decision could not become official unless the SEC altered its graduate transfer rule.
"There were some high-profile situations that we were probably overreacting to", Gators athletic director Scott Stricklin said. Before the rule change, Florida was unable to add a graduate transfer because two of its previous transfers - Anthony Harrell and Mason Halter - did not meet all their academic requirements as graduate students.
The SEC tweaked its graduate transfer policy Friday, June 2, 2017, making changes that would allow former Notre Dame quarterback Malik Zaire to land at Florida.
"We have an NCAA transfer working group and there's an interest in seeing what ideas might be generated nationally", Sankey said.
And, Sankey said, no other league has a similar policy. So, I don't know, look, I'm not a great lobbyist anyway for anything.
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The Gators were in the midst of a three-year probationary period due to the previous rule. Defensive back Maurice Smith received a waiver from the conference to play immediately at Georgia after a public battle. Alabama coach Nick Saban was strongly opposed to the legislation.
Originally, SEC bylaw 22.214.171.124 (b) stated: "The student-athlete must earn all possible April points applicable for each term of enrollment".
Saban said earlier in the week that he was opposed to opening up the graduate transfer rule within the conference. "I think it's important to allow that". I wasn't for it a year ago. "I mean, why should guys leave your team and go play for somebody else and you have to play against them?"
On Friday, the league voted on the change in legislation.
"One might have a hard semester but still earn an undergraduate degree", Sankey said. "We're going to honor the undergraduate degree".