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Transfer Portal: Free Agency in the NCAA

Free Agency has finally made it to college sports!

NCAA Hall of Champions by Shane Lear is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Transfer Portal: Free Agency in the NCAA


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Estimated Reading Time: 3 Minutes
the twilight zone GIF
“You’ve just crossed into…the Transfer Portal”

What is the Transfer Portal?

The Transfer Portal isn’t even a year old yet and it’s already taking the internet by storm. The new system was launched by the NCAA on October 15, 2018. It’s sole purpose is to give the student-athlete the power in transferring rather than the school the player is leaving. Player Mobility, if you will.

The way it works is simple. A player may place their name into the Portal at any time. Once placed there, any school may begin talks with that student to get them to enroll as a transfer. If the player has already graduated from their previous University then they are eligible to start right away. This is called a Graduate Transfer. If not, then they must sit out a year or appeal to the NCAA.

This system removes the abilities for schools to block student athletes from transferring to certain schools. Now a player is free to leave to whatever school they wish to enroll with. Free-Agency at it’s finest. However, since schools are no longer allowed to block players from attending any university they choose, schools now have the ability to cancel any scholarships given to a player once their name has been added to the portal.

The Portal Effect

We are only three weeks removed from the National Championship game and already over 100 names have been added to the portal. Schools like the University of Miami have been reaping the benefits of the portal while some, like Virginia Tech, have been experiencing the dark side of things. Miami has had a busy off-season adding the 2017 #2 Dual Threat QB recruit Tate Martell from Ohio State. They got back their leading receiver Jeff Thomas from Illinois and added Buffalo’s top receiver K.J. Osborn. On the defensive side they stole a D-lineman from UCLA and have a chance at stealing the #1 overall recruit from 2017. New Head Coach Manny Diaz has been busy.

The Portal can provide hope to a program in need like it has for Miami, but can also rear its ugly head on a program at a moments notice. Schools like UCLA, Virginia Tech, and Illinois have all begun to see the bad in the new transfer rule. These schools are seeing players put their names into the portal in bunches and UCLA has now lost it’s top 2 recruits from 2017. You can check in with a full list of players in the portal at 247sports.com.

Free Agency is FUN!

Without a doubt the biggest upside to this new rule is the publicity it brings to the NCAA. Think about the NBA for a second. That league has figured out a way to keep our attention even months after it’s championship series has been decided. They do it through player mobility and free agency. Everyone wants to know where Lebron will play. The NBA hasn’t even hit the All-Star break yet and we are already talking about what will happen in Free Agency this summer. Endless content. The NCAA has joined that party and it worked for them too.

We are now about a month out from the National Championship game and the NCAA is still being tweeted and talked about on all major networks. Who wouldn’t be interested in where Jalen Hurts, or Justin Fields and Tate Martell go? Even Brandon Wimbush drew headlines for leaving Notre Dame to go to UCF. The Portal has made the off-season fun!

Not All Fun and Games

With the new changes taking center stage this off-season, it seems that recruiting has taken a back seat. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think the Transfer Portal will ever over take the importance of recruiting, but it’s hard to convince coaches to start an 18 year old over a proven graduate transfer. On top of that, the new rule makes commitments less concrete.

The first signs of losing or decline within a program and it seems kids are quick to jump ship now. Same with signs of real competition. It will be difficult for coaches to keep depth charts stacked with talent. I will be interested to see how the Portal continues to change the landscape of the NCAA.

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