A letter from Florida’s congressional contingent won’t sway an NCAA decision to sideline a Florida State football player.
NCAA President Charlie Baker said rules require defensive tackle Darrell Jackson, Jr. to sit out a season after a second university transfer. U.S. Reps. Neal Dunn and Michael Waltz led a bipartisan letter to the NCAA asking the organization to make an exception because Jackson changed schools to be closer to his ailing mother.
But a letter in response makes clear the athletic authority won’t grant a waiver.
“The (NCAA Division I) council voted to specify the criteria for a waiver for undergraduate students who do not meet the requirements to use the one-time transfer exception,” Baker wrote. “Consistent with the council vote, waivers are only available in very limited circumstances, such as when a student-athlete demonstrates and adequately documents a need for medical or safety reasons to depart the previous school.”
Jackson, a Gadsden County native, previously played for the University of Maryland before transferring to the University of Miami. Baker’s letter notes recent changes to NCAA rules allow athletes one transfer. But if an athlete transfers a second time, there’s a requirement to sit out the season.
Dunn, a Panama City Republican whose district houses Florida State University, posted on social media that he disagreed with the NCAA decision.
“The reply from NCAA Pres. Charlie Baker is extremely disappointing. I stand by what I previously stated — Darrell Jackson, Jr. deserves support, NOT punishment for putting his family first,” Dunn wrote on Threads. “Come on, NCAA!”
Baker said Jackson remains eligible to keep his athletic scholarship at FSU and can continue to practice with the team. He also noted the NCAA requires institutions to provide proper support to students dealing with traumatic situations, including mental health services.
“Being close to family is important, and these decisions can be stressful,” Baker wrote. “While I am happy to hear that this student-athlete is now closer to home and will be able to participate in athletics next year, the Association has made recent changes to ensure support is provided for student-athletes experiencing these difficult circumstances.”