NCAA announces new transfer gate windows designed to immediately slow down activity

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The transfer landscape in college athletics changed again on Wednesday when the NCAA Division I Board of Directors approved transfer windows for the Transfer Portal.

The windows are effective immediately, which means business is closed along the transfer gate as we begin the 2022 college football season. The transfer gate went into effect in October 2018. College athletes from all sports will continue to be immediately eligible upon their first transfer, provided they notify their schools in writing during the designated transfer notification windows.

The window applies to all sports. Here’s more from the NCAA press release:

The legislation also establishes exceptions to the new windows for student-athletes who undergo head coaching changes or whose athletic assistance is reduced, canceled or not renewed.

Fall Sports: A 45-day window beginning the day after they select championships in their sport, or May 1-15.

Winter Sports: A 60-day window beginning the day after the selection of championships in the sport.
Spring Sports: December 1-15, or a 45-day window beginning the day after the day selections were made in the sport.

College football circles have lobbied extensively for transfer windows. Let’s break down what this change means for player movement going forward.

Transferring Windows slows things down

Under previous transfer rules, players were allowed to access the portal at any time of the year. All they had to do was bring the request into compliance. There were a few restrictions designed to curb movement, in particular an NCAA deadline of May 1 that players had to enter to use the one-time transfer waiver. But even that did little to resolve the post-spring transfer motion, as players could transfer and apply for an NCAA waiver to play immediately; these were granted at a clip of 86.5% in 2021, according to NCAA data.

This created an environment where tampering was rampant and coaches had no real control over the state of their roster. A team may have a projected start two deep in the spring ball only to lose multiple starters at the gate in late April. It happened.

This is why transfer windows have been a popular request from college football coaches.

These transfer windows will come at natural times, after the end of the regular/playoff season and after the end of spring training. The idea of ​​these windows is for players to assess where they fit in the context of the squad roster and make an informed decision while giving coaches a more concrete idea of ​​what their roster will look like without fear of losing. someone at a time when he is unable to replace him.

Will it really slow down tampering? The opinions of people I have spoken to in the field of college athletics are mixed. But this is an effort by the NCAA to rein in the seemingly open-door policy that has defined roster management since the adoption of the single transfer exemption.

How busy will these transfer windows be?

Between FBS and FCS, more than 5,000 players could easily enter the portal between these two transfer windows. There were just over 5,000 in the 2021-22 cycles, and several factors could see that number continue to rise:

  • There are still many COVID-19 super seniors – the 2018, 2019 and 2020 classes still have an extra year to use – in college football, adding thousands of players to the potential transfer pool.
  • Perhaps more importantly, teams are no longer limited to taking 25 players each cycle. Due to a recent NCAA rule change, schools are allowed to register for their maximum of 85 scholarships each year. It’s a massive change that will see teams sign far more players than normal each cycle at the peak of their rosters.

These factors occurring in concert will create a massive influx of players entering the portal at the same time. It will be like your favorite sport’s free agency period on your favorite wrestler’s steroid of choice.

Who transfers help and harm from Windows?

As always, the little guy will feel the brunt of these changes.

Transfer windows mean that there will be a large influx of players into the portal at once. These players still need to be scouted and vetted before a team can make an offer. Schools with large staff — think Ohio State, Alabama, Georgia — have a legion of analysts and scouts who can grind tape throughout the season in preparation for potential transfers. . These schools will already have ranked players and can offer a potential addition quickly.

Schools with smaller budgets are not so lucky. Many programs, especially at the Five Eyes level, have personnel departments for one or two person players. These schools will now have to sift through potentially thousands of players in a matter of weeks. Previously, these entries were spread over several months of the off-season.

Ultimately, these schools are still inherently at a disadvantage in recruiting prospects compared to schools with more resources. But in a transfer environment where speed – the first offer matters a lot for transfers – and the ability to unearth diamonds in the rough are paramount, the gap between resource-rich and needy schools will only grow.

On the other hand, smaller schools can now avoid having their rosters stolen by larger schools looking to fill a void at some random point in the offseason. So there are pushes and pulls with this change.

As for the window calendar, everyone will be on the same schedule, eliminating the advantages that schools previously had with the natural timing of their academic calendars.

Teams may need to be more selective

It’s easy to ignore this among all the other news, but there was one notable change outside of the windows in the press release: Schools will now be required to keep transferred athletes on the scholarship until the end of their five-year eligibility or until they complete their undergraduate degree. There is also an exception if a player turns pro or chooses to transfer again.

It’s a notable change, especially in a sports landscape where many scholarships are renewed every year.

Now, if a school accepts a transfer and it doesn’t work out, it must stay on scholarship. That’s a big deal, one out of 85 on a list. And if a few hiccups pile up, that could be a real roadblock to roster management. Given this change, schools will need to be more selective than ever when adding a player through the portal.

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