Transferring to a different college’s athletic program is a reality for many student-athletes. Players seek a transfer for various reasons, and they have used a record number of new NCAA transfer options within the last three years.
In October 2018, the NCAA transfer portal revolutionized how student-athletes transfer between colleges. The portal grants immediate eligibility, allowing student-athletes to transfer without sitting out a season.
Before the transfer portal, student-athletes looking to transfer had to sit out a year and complete one academic year at their new university.
The NCAA said it created the portal to manage the transfer process from start to finish and allow student-athletes to make their desire to transfer known publicly, according to its website.
During the 2020-21 calendar year, NCAA men’s basketball had 1,763 transfers players across all divisions as of Oct. 11.
Greg Young, men’s basketball head coach, said he endorses the portal and believes athletes should have the opportunity to succeed both athletically and academically.
Graduate student guard Pedro Castro has made multiple transfers throughout his college career and landed at UTA this past off-season.
Castro spent his first two seasons at UTA before transferring to Blinn College and Houston Baptist University and has returned to the Mavericks for the 2021- 2022 season.
Young said he hopes the athletic departments and programs will educate student-athletes on the positives and negatives of transferring. His coaching staff has to perform due diligence and understand why the player wants to leave and if they fit the team, he said.
During the transfer portal process, the student-athlete must notify the school’s compliance office that they want to transfer. The office then will digitally register the athlete’s name in the portal.
Student-athletes can provide personal information for all programs and communicate with coaches. They have several options to transfer as a scholarship player or a walk on or withdraw from the portal.
Young said he signed three players from the portal in 2021, built relationships with each of them and figured out why they left.
He tries to sign high school and junior college players that fit his program regardless of the number of players in the portal, he said.
Universities across the country are recruiting high school student-athletes less often and prioritizing older athletes to add more experience to their rosters, Young said.
Texas State University took advantage of the portal by signing two high school players in their 2021 recruiting class while picking up 19 four-year university transfers and three junior college players.
“Recruiting is the lifeblood of your program,” Young said. “You have to be knowledgeable, and you have to have a little forethought. That’s a real entity that we can use in recruiting from now until [the portal] changes again.” Shereka Wright, women’s basketball head coach, first knew about the Transfer Portal in her second coach- ing year at Vanderbilt University during the 2019-2020 season.
The portal opened an opportunity for coaches to communicate about transferring with student-athletes, Wright said.
She said she found recruiting during the COVID-19 period difficult because she had to rely on communicating virtually. She believes in building in-person relationships between player and coach.
The portal will continue to grow because of the lack of penalty for sitting out, she said. Student-athletes also transfer to be closer to home or when a head coach leaves.
Wright said she believes the portal will remain a staple in college athletics as a backup plan for coaches to find players in case of injuries or players wanting to go in different directions.
The softball transfer portal shows 876 student-athletes waiting to transfer as of Sept. 25.
Softball head coach Peejay Brun brought in three transfers through the portal during the offseason to bolster the roster. Even with the number of transfers she brought in, Brun said she is not the biggest fan of the portal.
“There are a lot of athletes that are quick to jump ship now and just get in that portal and try to change schools,” Brun said. “What we end up seeing is that you end up getting 500, 1,000 softball players that go into this school year that haven’t found a home.”
She said COVID-19 caused an issue because the athletes playing last year earned an extra year of eligibility. She expects student-athletes to crowd the portal for the next two years.
She said a lot of student-athletes’ careers ended because they couldn’t find a roster spot available at a university.
The portal has been good for covering up holes on a team, whether it’s players graduating or unexpected injuries, Brun said.
It hasn’t affected how she recruits, and it helps her focus on scouting more players, she said.
“The biggest thing that we have is a nice looking campus and great facilities,” she said. “So with recruits, we’d do a better job if we can get them on campus.