Unseen Risks of Transfer Portal Leave Athletes High and Dry
This week, the NCAA released data it has kept on the Transfer Portal since 2019 in hopes college athletes can make a more informed decision on leaving for another program.
Between 2020 and 2021, more than 16,000 graduate and undergraduate athletes have successfully transferred to another school, with football and men's basketball leading the way in portal entries.
What often goes unnoticed, and is a large reason this data was released, is the fact that over 50% of the athletes who've entered the portal never enrolled at a new school across the two years of data collected.
The NCAA reports that 7% of athletes in the portal withdraw their name without ever leaving the original school and 43% fall under the category of 'Active,' the default status when transferring, meaning they still remain in the portal without a new team.
Another hazard of transferring that fans may not consider is the impact on a player's scholarship. Each team in each NCAA sport has a cap on scholarships allowed for every season's roster, spots usually filled in through high school recruiting instead of the transfer portal.
According to the data, only 50% of athletes who received scholarship aid at their original institution continue to receive aid after transferring to a new program.
Despite the shortcomings and lack of information for athletes in the transfer portal's early days, there have been some major success stories to come out of it.
Alabama's Jalen Hurts and Ohio State's Joe Burrow both transferred out-of-conference, achieved success in a new landing spot and ended up being drafted to NFL teams. The Crimson Tide's Jameson Williams, another transfer from the Buckeyes, is hoping to follow the same path after leading the Alabama receiving core to another national title appearance in 2022.
Landon Dickerson, currently with the Philadelphia Eagles, is another success story to come out of the portal for Alabama. He was taken with the No. 37 overall pick in the second round of the NFL Draft after transferring from Florida State and winning the 2020 national championship with the Tide.
There are currently over 14,000 active players in the portal and only 350 member schools in the NCAA. Nearly 1,800 FBS football players remain in the portal with only 130 schools fielding a team for them to go to.
NCAA's Transfer Portal lets players have a one-time transfer, without any penalty, allowing athletes to contribute immediately upon arriving on a new team.