NCAA Transfer Portal is Changing College Sports As We Know It

In October 2018, the NCAA changed its transfer rules allowing players thinking about transferring to enter their name into a transfer portal that allowed other schools to contact them immediately.

This is a huge change to the previous transfer system that allowed coaches or administrators to block a player’s transfer requests. Unless the player has graduated, he/she still has to sit out a year. However, a player may request a hardship waiver to play immediately.


Such is the case for former University of Georgia quarterback Justin Fields who transferred to Ohio State after the 2018 season and was granted a hardship waiver that allows him to play for the Buckeyes in 2019.

Fields was the number one dual-threat quarterback in the 2018 recruiting class, but played sparingly behind starting quarterback, Jake Fromm, who has started his first two years for the Bulldogs. He saw the writing on the wall  that Fromm would remain the starter and Fields entered his name in the transfer portal.

With Buckeyes’ junior quarterback Dwayne Haskins declaring for the NFL draft, Fields decided to transfer to Ohio State. Fields requested a hardship waiver when transferring citing racial slurs Fields endured from a member of the Georgia baseball team on September 30 during their game against Tennessee.

Transfers seem to have had a domino effect for other players as well. The immediate eligibility of Fields prompted Ohio State sophomore quarterback Tate Martell to enter his name in the transfer portal eventually settling on the University of Miami. Like Fields, Martell applied for a hardship waiver citing the change in head coach from Urban Meyer to Ryan Day. Martell as yet to hear back from the NCAA to see if he can play for the Hurricanes in 2019.


At quarterback alone, including Fields and Martell, 16 signal-callers have transferred to other programs most notably Kelly Bryant from the NCAA champion. Bryant led the Tigers to the ACC championship and an appearance in the National Championship title game during his junior season, but lost his starting position to freshman Trevor Lawrence four games into the 2018 season.

kelly bryant

A change in the redshirt rules allowed Bryant an extra year of eligibility. Bryant will remain a Tiger, but will play for Missouri in 2019 as a graduate transfer.

Former Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Jalen Hurts has completed his undergraduate degree and will be another high-profile graduate transfer in 2019 as he takes over the reigns for the Oklahoma Sooners. The last two Heisman Trophy winners, Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray, also played for the Sooners. Could Hurts be the latest Sooner to take home the award?

While so many talented players will be leading new programs next fall, does this change the NCAA landscape as we know it. Graduate transfers have been allowed to play immediately as long as they completed their undergraduate studies. But, is the NCAA making it too easy for players to transfer and play immediately?

Any knowledgeable college sports fan knows Bryant, Martell, and Fields were not happy backing up other starting quarterbacks. All three players were expecting to be leading their previous universities to national championships in 2019.

Proponents of players being able to play immediately after transferring will say coaches are allowed to leave schools and go to another all the time without having to sit out a season. That is a valid point and one that should garner great discussion and debate.

However, players are the ones who go out and compete against their competition and will have the greatest impact on changing the landscape on the competition from one year to the next. Should the transfer rules be tightened to discourage players from looking to move on from a school based solely on athletics rather than academics?

The answer is yes. The NCAA is opening up a Pandora’s box by allowing players to speak to other schools while they are currently receiving a free education from another university. In the pros, speaking to a player while under contract to another organization is called tampering and is taken quite seriously.

How invested will players be in their current situation if they are looking into another school? Not much at all. Their mind has already taken them into new circumstances dreaming of success. All the while, they are still going to practice daily fr their current university and, most likely, just going through the motions until a transfer occurs.

And that’s as I see it!

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Twitter handle: @Mikulski_Scott

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Photo credits: (Fields) , (Martell), (Bryant)

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