Birth of the Portal: What is the college football transfer portal and why was it created?

5-minute read on what is the transfer portal

Transferring has been a part of college football since its inception. Players have looked to change colleges for various reasons since the 1890s, as we discovered in our pre-portal deep dive. However, in 2018, the NCAA introduced a significant change to the sport – the NCAA Transfer Portal.

Today, the transfer portal has become an essential tool for players to explore their options and find new opportunities. It has also become an invaluable method for coaches to build programs. This database system laid the foundations for player mobility, which has since snowballed into a huge piece of college football. So, what exactly is it?

What is the transfer portal?

What is the transfer portal?

Birth of the Portal: What is the transfer portal?

The NCAA Transfer Portal was first announced in mid-2018. This came after several years of discussion and debate over the best way to handle transfers in college sports. The NCAA Division I Council approved the creation of the portal after a unanimous vote, and the system went live on October 15, 2018.

This followed a significant transfer ruling in July 2018. The ruling eliminated players needing to gain permission in order to contact new programs in order to transfer. So, what is the actual transfer portal?

The transfer portal is an online database that allows student-athletes to signal their intent to transfer to another school. The database is managed by the NCAA, and is accessible to all Division I, II, and III schools.

When a student-athlete enters the transfer portal, their name and contact information are added to the database. Other schools can then contact the student-athlete and express interest in recruiting them.

However, entering the transfer portal does not guarantee that a student-athlete will be able to transfer to another school, and they may still be subject to certain transfer rules and restrictions.  In 2018, many of the penalties for transferring, such as sitting out a year, still existed.

So, why was the transfer portal created?

What is the transfer portal?

Controversies in Prior Years

Birth of the Portal: Why was the transfer portal created?

Graduate Transfer Restrictions

Before the creation of the transfer portal, graduate student-athletes who wanted to transfer to another school were often subject to arbitrary restrictions. Some schools would not allow graduate students to transfer to other schools within their conference or even on their schedule. In 2015, graduate transfer Everett Golson was blocked by Notre Dame from transferring to a number of schools.

Transfer Restrictions for Specific Sports

Certain sports, such as football and basketball, were subject to more restrictive transfer rules than others. In 2017, the NCAA denied the waiver request of a football player at Coastal Carolina who was seeking to transfer. This had come after his head coach was fired, and he was not recruited by the interim.

Contact Restrictions

In some cases, schools would restrict student-athletes from contacting other schools about a potential transfer. In 2015, quarterback Kyle Allen transferred from Texas A&M to Houston after being benched. Allen later said that he had to ask permission from Texas A&M to speak with other schools about a potential transfer. The school initially denied his request.

What is the transfer portal?

Transparency & Efficiency

Birth of the Portal: Why was the transfer portal created?

Before 2018, student-athletes who wanted to transfer to another school had to go through a more opaque and uncertain process. They had to request permission from their current school to contact other schools. And of course, their current school could restrict where they were allowed to transfer. The transfer portal was created to simplify this process and make it more transparent, so that student-athletes would have more options and greater control over their future.

The creation of the transfer portal was also seen as a response to the increasing number of transfers in college sports. This had been a growing concern for many years. By creating a centralized database of student-athletes who are considering transferring, the transfer portal made it easier for coaches and schools to track transfers.

Also, prior to the creation of the transfer portal, compliance officers at schools had to rely on student-athletes to inform them when they were considering transferring to another school. This made it difficult for them to manage transfers and ensure that they were following all applicable rules and regulations.

What is the transfer portal?

Immediate Effects

Birth of the Portal: Why was the transfer portal created?

In addition to the creation of the transfer portal, the NCAA made changes to the rules surrounding hardship waivers for student-athletes looking to transfer. Starting in 2019, student-athletes who transfer to a new institution would be immediately eligible to compete if they could demonstrate that they experienced “documented mitigating circumstances” at their previous institution that directly led to their decision to transfer.

During the 2018-2019 academic year, a total of 2,645 college football players entered the transfer portal. This was a marked increase from the previous year’s figure of 1,982. As the transfer process became more prevalent, concerns were raised regarding the success rate of finding new schools for entries, potential recruiting violations, scholarship availability, and a shift in character values.

The Pandemic & The Portal

As of the beginning of 2020, college football had experienced a series of rulings that eased transfer restrictions, coupled with the one-year anniversary of the NCAA Transfer Portal. The number of transfers continued to rise, transforming the sport’s landscape. However, the COVID-19 pandemic further complicated matters, exacerbating the already-changing dynamics of college football.

error: Content is protected