Azusa Pacific University’s classrooms host a plethora of transfer students — and so do the Cougar sports teams.

“We have become a very attractive landing spot for transfer students,” said Assistant Athletics Director Jackson Stava.

Stava credits this to APU’s private-school environment and nationally renowned location.

NCAA transfer rules allow student-athletes with remaining eligibility after completing their undergraduate degree to continue competing while receiving a second degree at another member institution.

Staci Foster spent four years running track and cross country at the University of Colorado at Boulder while studying for a degree in psychology. Foster said it was the phenomenal track program that drew her to Azusa Pacific University, and she had initially intended on earning her master’s degree while running as a Cougar. Instead of becoming a graduate student, Foster is working on her second undergraduate degree in sociology.

“I redshirted my freshman outdoor track and cross country [seasons], and then my junior indoor track [season],” Foster said. Because she redshirted, she was able to have enough eligibility left to allow her to run the mile for indoor season and the 1,500-meter outdoor season at APU.

Jacqueline Carlin, on the other hand, decided to use her excess eligibility to take the master’s route. The Cougar softball catcher is currently working toward a graduate degree in physical education and sports management.

Carlin graduated from the University of Charleston in West Virginia in three years, and on top of that, she took a medical redshirt her junior year due to tendinitis in her shoulder, leaving her with two seasons of eligibility.

After graduating from the University of Charleston, Carlin took one year off to stay home, work and practice softball.

“It was rough at first, but I was glad to be back here at school,” Carlin said of the difficulties she faced coming back to the diamond after a whole year without competing.

Baseball player Christopher Tyler Neal attended a series of schools before landing at APU. His undergrad began at Biola University, where he played baseball for two years, and then he transferred to Bakersfield College for one semester to play football. After that, Neal traveled across the country to the University of Tennessee-Knoxville for 2 1/2 years, leaving him with one semester of eligibility left.

Following the completion of his business management degree, Neal set out to find a Division II or III school that would take him in for his final semester of competition.

“I basically emailed every D-II and D-III baseball coach in the nation, and I got some responses, but APU gave me the most favorable response about playing time,” Neal said. He is currently studying toward his master’s degree in business administration.

APU hurdler Shujaa Benson is also finishing his eligibility while earning a master’s degree. Benson started his undergrad at the University of Illinois and transferred to Texas Tech in 2012. The amount of remaining eligibility for indoor and outdoor seasons is still being determined.

Transferring schools can be extremely challenging, but when eligibility is in the mix, it’s a whole different ballgame. APU’s recent NCAA membership has begun to turn the heads of transfer athletes from all over the nation.