How NCAA's new transfer window impacts college basketball

How NCAA’s new transfer window impacts college basketball

By John Fanta
FOX Sports College Basketball Writer

Transfers, transfers and … transfers.

More than 1,700 men’s college basketball players entered their names into what is simply referred to as “the portal” this offseason, causing a flurry of activity and buzz-worthy storylines. On Wednesday, a proposal was made in an effort to provide some more direction to the chaotic transfer cycles in college sports.

The NCAA Board of Directors announced the implementation of notification-of-transfer windows. In college basketball, the period that players will need to officially enter the portal will begin the Monday following Selection Sunday and will end after 60 days. For example, in 2023, the notification-of-transfer window will last from March 13 to May 11.

What does this mean?

For starters, this provides a deadline for players to announce their intention to change schools. That was not in place before, so a player could have decided they were entering the portal in late May, June, or even July. This new policy does not mean that a player must decide within that window where he is going, just that he intends to enter the portal.

There’s another side of the window’s specific span, though, and it comes with when it starts.

While the majority of the 358 programs in Division I will be starting their offseason, 68 programs will be focused on the NCAA Tournament. Could the opening week of this window put teams that are locked in on the Big Dance at a disadvantage? It’s a question worth asking, but since the rich have only gotten richer of late, one can assume the best programs will still reel in top-end talent.

Still, it could create a situation where a coaching staff finds itself building a game plan for a first-round NCAA Tournament game while also trying to work the phone lines with potential transfers.

April is already a time when coaches hit the high school recruiting trail for live evaluation periods. Transfer decisions and official visits will be ongoing. Under the current calendar structure, this could make April pretty busy, even more for Tournament teams.

Behind the scenes, some coaches are concerned about handling the recruitment of a 20-plus-year-old transfer while also dedicating time to high school prospects. There’s also the added effect of having to re-recruit your own players, something that has been occurring as transfers have increased.

We have seen the added COVID years of eligibility already do damage to the recruitment of high schoolers. This calendar shift does not help the April live recruiting period either, and a potential next step could be some level of alteration to that calendar for everything to make more sense.

These are some questions and effects to consider, but this expected change will also provide some more clarity in college basketball’s offseason, something that’s been difficult to achieve.

What coaches are saying

Texas’ Chris Beard: “Even the wild, wild West had some rules. There weren’t many, but one of them was to not pull your gun out at the saloon. I like the idea. It’s needed in our sport.”

Florida’s Todd Golden: “I don’t have a strong opinion either way. We just try to take whatever rules or whatever comes our way and follow them. I kind of like it, actually. There’s more understanding when guys come and go. There’s also the concern or unknown of somebody bouncing out in July, which can go away. This is the direction our sport is going. There’s more student athlete freedom, which I’m all good for. If they want options, they can exercise those, but they have to understand the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.”

Anonymous Big Ten coach: “The most important recruits are the ones on your campus. If you’re not in your own players’ ears every day, you can guarantee other programs will be. As a staff, you have to be spending an enormous amount of time with your own players, talking to them, working with them and showing them things you can improve on for next season. That’s a process, and it’s a priority as opposed to going after high school players, in reality.”

Anonymous Big East coach: “I think this window definitely simplifies it. I also think it hurts schools that hire a new coach. It’s not great for new hires to find some players because the timeline of the transfer window opening and job searches are not one in the same. This might make athletic directors make head coaching decisions even quicker, I would guess.”

Anonymous first-year head coach: “This year, I tried to keep all of my best players and I looked at May 1 as the date that solidified that. With this new model, I will do the same thing and look at May 12 as the deadline to accomplish this. I agree with the April high school live period discussions. There really doesn’t need to be two weekends that are live. One weekend would be enough and better!”

Other NCAA news and notes …

The NCAA also declined to adopt a proposal that would allow a student-athlete to transfer as many times as he wants and be granted immediate eligibility. Under the current policy, a student-athlete is granted immediate eligibility only once in their career when transferring.

That said, any multi-time transfer can still apply for eligibility through a waiver system, and in recent years the NCAA has allowed these waivers to go right through for second and third-time transfers. The change may not have been formally made, but it’s mostly happening anyway.

Elsewhere, the Board of Directors decided to eliminate the Independent Accountability Resolution Process. Known as the IARP, this group was established in 2019 at the request of the Commission on College Basketball to handle offenses cases following an FBI probe. The group is being broken up as part of a process to quicken how the NCAA handles infractions, something the association has never had a grip on.

Of note: The IARP will still rule on its five remaining cases involving Arizona, Louisville, LSU, Kansas and Memphis. It’s unclear when these rulings will come down, but for Jayhawks head coach Bill Self, former Arizona coach Sean Miller (now at Xavier) and Memphis’ Penny Hardaway, among others, the wait is on for long overdue rulings on penalties. The decision from the group will be final and not subject for appeal.

John Fanta is a national college basketball broadcaster and writer for FOX Sports. He covers the sport in a variety of capacities, from calling games on FS1 to serving as lead host on the BIG EAST Digital Network to providing commentary on The Field of 68 Media Network. Follow him on Twitter @John_Fanta.

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