While opinions differ regarding the transfer portal window, it is fascinating that the NCAA can propose unlimited transfers without penalty at the same time. Here’s why the two don’t go hand in hand.
First, the transfer portal windows of 45 days in December-January and 15 days in May hinder the ability of college coaches to make true roster assessments. Throughout the year, scholarships fluctuate as players head off early to the NFL, transfer, have academic or off-the-field issues or simply don’t perform. You can have three scholarships available at one time and suddenly 10 spots open a couple months later. A roster can go from 12 offensive linemen (just an example) to eight in the span of months. So my point is this — the need for transfers is year long. With portal windows, more and more players will be left hanging and waiting and hoping for spots to open. Players cannot truly assess the market as well with windows in place. More than 500 players are being left without a home this portal cycle (August 1 to August 1 essentially). This number will increase with portal windows.
So the idea of throwing out an unlimited transfer rule at the same time as windows is insane. More players will be able to jump in as they aren’t worried about their one bite at the apple. This means more transfers with less ability of roster assessment on both sides. This means disaster.
Secondly, unlimited transfers makes for an even more uncertain roster analysis for coaches. Where once you could figure a QB couldn’t leave because he already used his transfer now you just don’t know. A two-time transfer player (let’s use JT Daniels as an example) has more and more chances to leave if he wants. His career could span from USC to Georgia to West Virginia to who knows where. This kind of unpredictability is one of the things coaches bemoan about the portal and the NCAA just made it worse.
And finally, because of the two points above more and more schools will try to hold back scholarships just in case. Don’t they do that now? Many do and most will but this is trickier now. This will hurt high school players trying to land offers and will essentially kill any JUCOs with a lack of serious funding. With unlimited transfers the portal will be even more of an option for coaches to fill their rosters. The problem though? There’s no way to predict roster needs effectively with this combination of windows and unlimited free agency.
The goal of all of this is to try to cut down tampering and I get it. Portal windows could mean less ability to tamper although I doubt it because it’s not being reinforced. But who’s to say a superstar player jumps from one team to the next to the next for his three years of college taking the highest NIL bid each year? It will happen, trust me. A Jordan Addison can start at Pitt, go to USC and then head to Texas if he wants under this new rule. And that’s just untenable to me. As the elite shop options, the far from elite will be lucky to land financial aid in this new system.
All and all the NCAA is trying to reign in chaos on the one hand (windows) while creating it on the other (unlimited transfers). None of us should be surprised.