Prior to May 2019, a graduate of an NCAA Division I or II school was not permitted to transfer to a Division III school to play in their sport of choice as a graduate student. That rule was reversed nearly two years ago, on the grounds that the student had a remaining year of eligibility by Division III standards and obtained a GPA of at least 3.0 over their undergraduate career.

The NCAA also provided blanket waivers to student-athletes in all three divisions whose season were affected by COVID-19. This meant that any student-athlete (fall, winter, spring) obtained an extra year of eligibility no matter what.

These two changes in legislation created the perfect storm for Nick Kondo to become Chapman’s first-ever graduate transfer. A 2020 graduate of the University of Albany in New York, Nick is currently enrolled in the MBA program here at Chapman and is finishing out his final year of eligibility with the Chapman baseball team. Nick’s senior year was cut short due to COVID-19, but with the NCAA’s waiver of eligibility, he decided he wasn’t quite ready to end his baseball career.

“I had plans to attend graduate school even while I was in undergrad,” Nick said. “However, I was planning to work a few years and then go back to graduate school if necessary. Because the only way I could play baseball is if I went to grad school right away, my plans changed, and I started my search right away.”

Nick played all four years in the infield at the University of Albany, earning First Team All-Conference accolades in his junior season while also being named team captain as a senior. A Saratoga Springs native, Nick was just a 40-minute drive from his hometown.

“At the time, it was a perfect fit for me. I already had a ton of friends attending, and it was a great opportunity to play D1 baseball in a competitive conference. The coaches showed a lot of interest in me and even offered me a scholarship.”

So what brought the upstate New Yorker to sunny Southern California? Just that. “After playing in the Northeast my entire life, I wanted to go play somewhere it was warm,” Nick said. Academic fit was also important to Nick. Since most Division I programs were impacted with oversized rosters and uncertainties, the choice became easier. “It narrowed me closer and closer to Chapman, who has an excellent baseball program, business program, and I don’t think it’s rained since I got here in August.”

Chapman brought student-athletes back for athletically related activity on February 15th with the hopes of competition by April. Nick and his teammates are anxiously awaiting the moment they can run back out on the diamond for some conference action.