Working with Athletes -- "The Wild West!"

by Melissa Brock
Official Blogger for NCAG

An extra year of eligibility & the Transfer Portal directly impact high school students. The recent changes in transfer rules mean college coaches get to decide whether to fill spots on their rosters with experienced athletes.

As an independent college consultant, working with student-athletes is different from working with non-student athletes, wouldn't you say? 

To make things even more interesting, the NCAA has unleashed a new set of rules related to athletic recruiting. If you've ever heard of the words "Transfer Portal," you know it's like the Wild West out there. 

What's the Transfer Portal, just in case you've never heard of it? 

The Transfer Portal was created as a compliance tool to manage the transfer process and add more transparency to the process. It also empowers student-athletes to make their wishes known that they wanted to consider other programs. 

Once student-athletes ask a compliance administrator to place their name in the portal, the school has two business days to do so.

Previously, when student-athletes wanted to transfer, they had to ask their coach for permission to contact other schools, but the coach could deny the request. Then the athlete had to go to the athletics director to get approved. If it then didn't get approved, they'd have to go to a campus administrator, such as a dean of students. Then, it would have to go to a committee on campus.

Those who didn't receive permission still could transfer but wouldn't be allowed to access athletic aid at the new school. Read: Athletes had to fight and beg to be put in the Transfer Portal. 

Now, the school has to make it happen within 48 hours. That's a good thing because it gives athletes more power over their process. 

However, where it gets interesting is that it directly impacts high school students. Now that these new transfer rules have been put into place, colleges get to decide whether they want to fill their programs with older athletes or not. In programs where size matters (like football), it's easier to see how a coach might prefer to get someone who has been in the weight room for two years instead of a high school kid who hasn't had college-level strength and conditioning.  

If you haven't already encouraged the high school athletes you're working with to open their list wider, go for it. As a result, high school student-athletes have been looking at community college options, preferred walk-on options, etc. 

The questions now become:
Can I walk on and get a scholarship my second year?
Can I go to a lower-tier DI school, enter the portal and trade up?
-- Can I go to a Division III program at first, then enter the portal to play at a higher level?" 

Another conundrum: In 2020, college student-athletes were given an extra year after the COVID-19 season didn't happen. Many college athletes did not graduate after 2020, so a lot of college coaching programs had to juggle -- again, another disadvantage to high school athletes! Obviously, a global pandemic is nobody's fault but it has had a tremendous impact on athletic recruiting and the process itself.

Do the changes create more opportunities? Maybe it's too early to tell.

Posted in College Admissions Criteria, Financial Aid.