TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – After eight months, scores of man hours, and long stretches where it seemed like he might run out of time, Jordan Travis’ journey to become an eligible football player at Florida State is finally over.
That much was ensured on Monday morning, when coach Willie Taggart delivered the news that the ACC had approved Travis’ transfer waiver request. Which means that, combined with the NCAA’s approval late last month, Travis is officially able to compete for the Seminoles this fall.
“I feel great now,” Travis said. “All the stress is gone now, so I can relax and just focus on my game.”
Travis, the younger brother of former FSU baseball star Devon Travis, admits that there were times he thought this moment might never come. And, given the roller coaster he’s been on since arriving at FSU in January, it’s hard to blame him.
But thanks to Travis’ compelling case for a waiver, as well as constant and deliberate efforts by Florida State’s compliance office to bring that case to the NCAA and ACC, those valleys have led to one of the highest peaks of Travis’ young career.
“Compliance worked really hard,” Travis said. “I appreciate them a lot. They did everything they could to get me approved.”
That process began shortly after Travis’ arrival. It then went through a number of twists and turns and didn’t reach its full conclusion until Monday morning.
Because despite the recent wave of transfers spread across college athletics, Travis’ case proved to be much more complicated.
Initially, there were three things working against him:
So if Travis was to be eligible for 2019-20, he and Florida State would need to receive three separate waivers – two from the ACC and one from the NCAA.
That alone was enough to make Travis’ case complicated, and things were about to get even trickier.
Because while FSU’s compliance office was determining the best strategy to make Travis’ case, the ACC was also considering changes to its intraconference transfer rules in light of the recently created NCAA transfer portal.
After lengthy discussions at the conference level, the ACC in mid-February decided to eliminate its NLI transfer rule but to retain its intraconference transfer rule.
OK, so that’s one waiver down, two to go.
Good news, but Travis still had a long way to go.
It was right around this time FSU made a calculated decision, albeit one that might have slowed the timeline a little bit: It decided to actively engage the athletics department at Louisville before submitting the waiver application to the NCAA.
This was done for a good reason. NCAA rules state that former schools named in a waiver request must be given a chance to review the facts and assertions that the applying school submits. The NCAA receives and considers those reviews before making a ruling.
Florida State could’ve skipped that part and submitted its request more quickly. But had Louisville then disputed Travis’ case, the process might have devolved into a back-and-forth affair between the two schools – with the NCAA acting as an intermediary.
So rather than risk that, FSU got Louisville involved before submitting its case to the NCAA. And it found Louisville to be an active and responsive participant in the proceedings.
(An important note: Although Louisville had a football coaching change following the 2018 season, that was not the basis for Travis’ appeal and was not considered by the NCAA or ACC in making their rulings.)
The process took a few weeks, but Louisville and Florida State worked cooperatively together, and, in mid-April, FSU officially submitted Travis’ waiver request to the NCAA.
From there, the waiting game began.
And it’s this part that seemed to cause the most consternation in and around the FSU community.
A typical NCAA waiver request might take around three weeks before a ruling, and a number of high-profile transfers earlier this year seemed to receive favorable decisions in a matter of days.
But after submitting Travis’ waiver request in April, Florida State did not get an answer from the NCAA until mid-June.
(Another note, about waiver requests: Submitting them is not as simple as buying socks on Amazon. They require extensive research, documentation, statements from student-athletes and parents and several other details. The process can take days or weeks. Travis wrote and submitted his own one-page statement as part of the application.)
So how could other schools have their transfer matters settled in such a short time while Florida State’s case took so long?
The answer is pretty straightforward. As news of waivers being submitted and approved spread across the college football landscape earlier this year, the NCAA found itself flooded with transfer requests.
Before long, that three-week window ballooned into something much, much longer.
Travis and Florida State simply found themselves caught in the deluge.
Even worse, when the NCAA did finally issue its response, it wasn’t what Travis was hoping for: His request had been denied.
By this time, Travis began to accept that things wouldn’t go his way.
“I kind of gave up,” he said. “I doubted a lot. I was at a point in the summer where I was just kind of down and telling everyone I wasn’t eligible.”
Florida State, however, wasn’t ready to let the matter go.
In its answer, the NCAA listed three separate reasons it had denied Travis’ requests. (Those reasons involved Travis’ personal circumstances and were not related to football.)
And, upon review, FSU found that it had very strong and specific refutations to all three of the NCAA’s points.
So a few weeks after receiving the NCAA’s initial decision, Florida State presented a written appeal to the NCAA’s Committee on Legislative Relief – a seven-member body composed of administrators from around Division I. Most importantly, the Committee on Legislative Relief is a different organization than the one that issued the initial denial.
This time, the answer came much more quickly. Less than three weeks after receiving the appeal, the CLR ruled in Travis’ favor on July 24, just eight days before the Seminoles began fall camp.
Travis, all of a sudden, had hope.
“When the NCAA approved the appeal, that was when I started to change my mind,” he said.
With one waiver in hand, FSU then turned its focus toward the ACC.
The ACC was aware of the case, but Florida State still had to provide official notice that it planned to submit a request to waive the league’s intraconference transfer rule.
Requests of that nature are then heard by the faculty athletics representatives from each of the 15 ACC schools. (Dr. Pamela Perrewé has served as FSU’s FAR since 2011.)
Florida State submitted its request to the ACC in July, and, on Monday morning, the committee held a teleconference to weigh the case.
In a matter of a couple hours, a process that took months finally reached its conclusion. And an awfully satisfying conclusion at that: The FARs ruled in Travis’ favor, making him immediately eligible for competition.
“It was tough,” Travis said. “It was very stressful, but I had a lot of people supporting me and just pushing me to stay positive. And everything worked out.”
FSU’s compliance office quickly notified Taggart, and the coach found Travis in the FSU locker room and gave him the good news.
“He was really happy,” Travis said.
Travis, meanwhile, is simply happy to get back to work. He’s been practicing with the team since he arrived in January, but always with the knowledge that, unless something changed, he’d have no chance of ever seeing the field on Saturdays.
Now, Travis finds himself exactly where he wants to be. At Florida State, competing with his fellow quarterbacks and trying to help the Seminoles win in any way he can.
“I’m very blessed,” Travis said. “This has been my favorite school since I was a little boy. God is great, and I’m just very appreciative.”