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SEC relaxes graduate transfer rules, clearing way for Malik Zaire to Florida

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We’re two thirds of the way down the road now.

NCAA Football: Notre Dame at Texas Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

The Southeastern Conference has significantly reduced its penalty related to academic progress of graduate transfers, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey announced Friday, in a move that clears the way for former Notre Dame quarterback Malik Zaire to join the Florida Gators as a graduate transfer.

Sankey told reporters in a press conference on Friday at the end of the SEC’s annual spring meetings in Destin, Florida that the SEC has shortened the length of the prohibition on taking graduate transfers for a program that had graduate transfers fail to make academic progress from three years to one, effective immediately.

That would mean that Florida’s penalty for the failures of graduate transfers Mason Halter and Anthony Harrell to make academic progress in the fall of 2015, originally set to extend into or through the 2018-19 academic year, is now over.

And that would mean that Zaire is now free and clear to be eligible to play a season of football for the Gators.

Does that mean that this exultant tweet from Zaire on Friday afternoon is directly related to the SEC’s rules alteration?

No, not necessarily.

But Zaire has been linked to Florida for months, and reportedly told people that he had decided on Florida last weekend. And while Florida and Jim McElwain have been relatively coy about their intent to take Zaire, the Gators also have not batted down any speculation about post-spring additions.

At this point, if Zaire does not ultimately end up at Florida, it would be a surprise.

In fact, at this point, I suspect Zaire officially becoming a Gator is a matter of when.