Nightmare Of Transfer Portal Impacting Schools

Editor/Collegiate Baseball

INDIANAPOLIS — The nightmare continues. The NCAA’s one-time transfer rule for NCAA Division I athletes, better known as the transfer portal, has allowed star players to bolt for greener pastures at other universities in record numbers.

Many are searching for the elusive pot of gold at high profile programs with name, image and likeness (NIL) deals as college athletes receive compensation using their brand which is used in promotional endeavors.

Some coaches, via third parties, are tampering with elite players at other schools, according to coaches Collegiate Baseball contacted, as star players are enticed to enter the transfer portal.

Even All-Americans are leaving programs they starred at.

Collegiate Baseball has produced an NCAA Div. I All-American team for the past 39 years.

In July of 2021, the transfer portal began. Prior to that point, we can’t recall one time when a first team Collegiate Baseball All-American transferred to another program.

For 37 years, those first team All-Americans who had eligibility remaining went back to the schools that allowed them to produce amazing numbers.

By comparison, the last two years have seen three Collegiate Baseball first team All-Americans with eligibility remaining transfer to other programs.

They include Jacob Berry from Arizona to LSU in 2021. He hit .371 with 15 HR, 16 2B and 64 RBI for the Wildcats.

The following year in 2022, freshman Tommy White of N.C. State put up incredible numbers as he hit .362 with 27 homers, 12 doubles and 74 RBI for the Wolfpack. He transferred to LSU.

That same year, Air Force 2-time Collegiate Baseball first team RHP/DH All-American Paul Skenes transferred to LSU. He is a remarkable hitter who is even more gifted as a pitcher with a 100 mph fastball.

In 2021, he hit .410 with 21 doubles, 11 homers and posted 11 saves with a 2.70 ERA as a freshman.

In 2022, he was 10-2 on the mound with a 2.42 ERA and 92 strikeouts. As a hitter, he had 12 homers, 10 doubles and 36 RBI.

We saw 2,118 NCAA Div. I players enter the transfer portal in 2021 after the one-time transfer rule was adopted by the NCAA Council April 15, 2021.

In essence, Division I baseball players could now transfer and play immediately at other Division I schools as long as they had not transferred before.

Athletes could even transfer from one school in the same conference to another school in that league which has raised the ire of many coaches.

Prior to this rule, athletes had to sit out one year as a penalty for transferring from one Division I school to another.

20 Players Enter Portal
One of the craziest situations in college baseball history unfolded after the 2021 College World Series.

Arizona was eliminated at the CWS with two losses to Vanderbilt and Stanford.

When the Wildcats got back home to Tucson, Ariz., Head Coach Jay Johnson resigned and became the new skipper at Louisiana St.

Then 20 players from Arizona entered their name in the NCAA’s transfer portal before the July 1 deadline.

Only eight of the 20 ultimately returned in the fall of 2021.

The Wildcats have won four national championships in baseball over the years and qualified for the College World Series 18 times.

If this can happen to a proud baseball program like Arizona, it can happen to any university.

For 40 straight years, Collegiate Baseball has evaluated recruiting classes in Division I and tracked where recruits came from (high school, junior college or 4-year schools).

Collegiate Baseball announced the top 50 NCAA Div. I recruiting classes in October of 2021.

Only three of 50 teams did not dip into the transfer portal talent pool.

The highest number of Division I transfers were landed by Texas A&M with nine. Kentucky brought in eight while Texas Tech. and Oregon landed seven Division I transfers.

By far the highest number of 4-year transfers from Division I schools in history took place in 2021 because athletes were immediately eligible if they hadn’t transferred before.

A record 2,404 NCAA Div. I baseball players entered the transfer portal in 2022.

The school which brought in the highest number of NCAA Div. I transfers last fall was 20 at Austin Peay State among its 28-man recruiting class.

Of the top 50 recruiting classes, only two schools (Stanford and Louisville) didn’t tap the transfer portal. It is interesting to note that 23 of the top 50 classes brought in five or more players from the transfer portal of NCAA Div. I players. Nine teams brought in eight or more players from the portal.

There is an obvious problem with the 1-time transfer rule as athletes in football, basketball and baseball are jumping from one program to the other looking for greener pastures and NIL money.

Serious Problem Develops
NCAA Div. I presidents acknowledge the gravity of the situation.

Several months ago, the NCAA Division I Council voted unanimously to update guidelines for the waiver process for undergraduate student-athletes who are transferring for a second time.

Each waiver request will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Student-athletes must now meet one of the following criteria to be granted a waiver to compete immediately:

  • A demonstrated physical injury or illness or mental health condition that necessitated the student’s transfer (supporting documentation, care plans and proximity of the student’s support system will be considered), or
  • Pressing circumstances that clearly necessitate a student-athlete’s immediate departure from the previous school (e.g., physical assault or abuse, sexual assault) unrelated to the student-athlete’s athletics participation.

All other guidelines will no longer be used for waiver requests to compete during championship seasons that first occur in 2023-24. 

The Council agreed that athletics’ reasons (lack of playing time, position presence) and academic preferences should not warrant waiver relief. 

The Council directed the Transfer Advisory Group to recommend changes to the transfer waiver process to manage situations that fall outside these guidelines.

For transfer student-athletes expected to meet the requirements for a limited transfer exception (discontinued sport or non-scholarship exception) the Council voted to allow student-athletes to enter the transfer portal at any time instead of requiring them to use their respective sport’s transfer window.

The lack of consistency with the transfer rules is baffling to many college baseball coaches.

You can leave for no reason as a first time transfer. Yet if you try to transfer again, it is almost impossible to do it again without sitting out a year at another NCAA Div. I school.

To read more of this in-depth story, purchase the March 24, 2023 edition of Collegiate Baseball or subscribe by CLICKING HERE.