Column: Time for the NCAA to put its foot down

Published 2:50 pm Sunday, April 30, 2023

It is time for the National Collegiate Athletic Association to put its foot down in regards to the transfer portal.

Launched in 2018, the transfer portal, in part, was a way to aid student-athletes who signed to play at one school and then the coach they intended to play for left for another job. It was also meant to create greater transparency in the transfer process.

In 2021, when the NCAA changed the rule to allow a student-athlete to transfer one time without having to sit out a year, the wheels fell off the bus.

In 2019-20, 1,695 FBS players entered the transfer portal when it still had the rule of having to sit out a year. In 2021-22, when the NCAA lifted that rule, 3,085 players entered the portal.

Quite frankly, in my estimation, that as the end of big-time college athletics as an amateur sport. When you add in Name, Image and Likeness to the equation, players are moving from school to school at an alarming rate, and it has created a way for players to seek better deals by playing for better programs.

I honestly do not know how colleges are going to be able to run programs when they never know who is going to come or go from their teams. It does not only affect smaller schools, but large programs as well. No one seems to be immune to it, even the likes of Notre Dame, Michigan, Michigan State or Alabama.

If a player feels he is not getting the right amount of time on the field or court, or thinks he can get a better NIL deal by playing at a different school with a higher profile, then he jumps into the portal.

Heck, an Ohio State linebacker quit the team at halftime of a game and jumped into the portal the following week. That has got to be stopped.

The NCAA has turned college athletics into a similar process that we have in the political arena. Coaches now have to recruit year-round and convince the players they do sign to stay, just like we now have non-stop campaigning for political offices.

We all know how well that has turned out for the country. Is the same fate awaiting college athletics? Will fans be forced into confrontations with other fans when a school gets one of their top players through the transfer portal and a season that seemed promising in July and August, turns out to be a complete disaster come September and October?

Between the portal and NIL, I believe we are returning to the old days of college football when boosters for teams were dealing under the table for the top prospects. It took a long time to clean up the illegal recruiting of players to a point where it was not a prevalent as it used to be. But now, all bets are off. We have already had coaches from schools point fingers at other coaches and claiming they were “buying” players. We have got to nip this in the bud because it will create an unfair landscape in college football and could hurt the on-the-field product.

College athletics are special, and I would hate to see them ruined by greed. It is time for the NCAA to step up and act like the grown-up in the room and create some rules that are black and white and easily understood by everyone. They should also be written in ink instead of the crayon they usually write their rules in.


Scott Novak is sports editor for Leader Publications. He can be reached at