About 1,400 players sit in the NCAA Basketball Transfer Portal currently.
A number seeming to grow when the NCAA’s Division One Council reportedly approved a one-time transfer rule Wednesday, per The Athletic’s Nicole Auerbach. Altogether, this ruling will grant liberty to all athletes looking to transfer without sitting out a season. Now, a trend looked at as “college free-agency” will become a mainstay.
A New Era
Wednesday’s reported ruling signals a new era in collegiate athletics. By all means, this has been the direction the NCAA has been moving towards since the induction of the portal in Fall 2018. Previously, student-athletes were required to sit out a full season before granted eligibility. Albeit, if athletes were to bypass the one year hiatus, they would need a hardship waiver approved by the NCAA.
Notably, this rule became milked in 2019 when then Georgia quarterback Justin Fields entered the transfer portal. Indeed, Fields transferred to Ohio State. Right away, the NCAA deemed the quarterback eligible. Simultaneously, then Georgia tight end Luke Ford was denied eligibility. Evidently, Ford transferred to Illinois in hopes of being closer to his dwindling-health grandparents. That is, until the NCAA denied his waiver and forced him to sit out the 2019 season. A notable and major example of the transfer portal’s inconsistencies.
The NCAA has denied an immediate eligibility waiver for Illinois tight end Luke Ford after he transferred from Georgia in January: https://t.co/qEYU20sKLt
— 247Sports (@247Sports) April 24, 2019
Such inconsistencies, like Ford’s case, forced the NCAA’s hand in Wednesday’s ruling. Increasingly more athletes have entered the portal since its conception in 2018. So, it has become progressively more difficult to deem eligibility. With the NCAA’s ruling, every division one athlete will now be granted a one time opportunity to transfer without sitting out a season.
What It Means
Wednesday’s news will continue the act of “college free-agency”. Athletes will continue to flock towards the portal in hopes of early playing time. Notoriously, Florida basketball has already felt this ripple effect. Hence, Gator’s coach Mike White has watched four of his players enter the transfer portal in 2021. Seeing that, White underwent a mass rebuild through the portal, signing four players already. Likewise, his quick adjustment signifies the new normal in collegiate athletics.
Charleston Southern transfer Phlandrous Fleming Jr. is the latest transfer to join White’s depleted roster. Surely, he won’t be the last. Florida has already added Penn State guard Myreon Jones, Boston College forward CJ Felder and Summit League DPOTY Brandon McKissic. Along with Fleming, said transfers are the latest in a lieu of “college free-agents” coming to Gainesville.
Yet, it’s not just Gainesville experiencing the new normal. Collegiate athletics are feeling the brunt of portal side effects nationwide. Even so, it’s clear the direction the NCAA is moving in, with NIL legislation on the way. The portal has drastically changed the outlook of college sports forever. What would’ve happened had Troy Aikman instantly transferred to UCLA in 1986?
Nonetheless, this has become normality in collegiate athletics today. It’s time to get used to seeing a mass exodus of transfers every season.