Sweeping changes may be coming through the NCAA, and none may be more impactful than the potential changes to the transfer portal.
Many college coaches have seen the possibility of the transfer rules changing as something that is wrong for college athletics. West Virginia head men’s basketball coach Bob Huggins has taken the opportunity to voice his opinion on the subject when asked.
“I think it’s going to be like professional sports in just trading pieces,” Huggins said. “I think it’s going to be what you see from now on in people just grabbing guys from the transfer portal and then guys going in the transfer portal.”
Usually when a student-athlete transfers, there is a long, arduous process that a player goes through to become eligible. When student-athletes transfer to a new school, they have to sit out a year before being eligible to play for their new university if they meet certain NCAA standards.
With rule changes stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, many players in college basketball are getting waivers to be immediately eligible the first year that they transfer. Now in terms of former West Virginia forward Oscar Tshiebwe, who transferred midseason this year, there is no possibility of him playing during the 2020-21 season for head coach John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats.
A rule change hasn’t been adopted by the NCAA yet as a vote is expected in January to decide on the possibility of permanent changes to the transfer rules.
Huggins compared the possibility of the new transfer portal rules to that of professional free agency and trading. Huggins also believes there will be dedicated departments in programs once this new way of college athletics takes full shape.
“I don’t know if it’s become a science yet; I think it is going to come to that,” Huggins said. “I think people are going to be hired to just evaluate players from there.”
Huggins sees recruiting taking a major shift in athletics and how things will change dramatically by these potential rule changes with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“What’s going on with the immediate transfer, eligibility and all the other things in our game, I think guys are just going to sit down and evaluate off of film,” Huggins said of recruiting changes. “I think the majority of what’s going to happen is just stealing from other programs, stealing isn’t the right word, I guess. Taking guys from other programs.”
There are three conditions that student-athletes must meet right now in order to transfer to another program from the NCAA:
- They are transferring to a Division II or III school, or they are transferring to a Division I school in any sport other than baseball, men's or women's basketball, football (Football Bowl Subdivision) or men’s ice hockey. If they are transferring to a Division I school for any of the previously-listed sports, they may be eligible to compete immediately if they were not recruited by the original school and have never received an athletics scholarship.
- They are academically and athletically eligible at their previous four-year school.
- They receive a transfer-release agreement from their previous four-year school.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has brought immediate changes throughout college athletics, the potentially new transfer rules might be the most significant changes that come to college sports in these eventful times.