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NIL and the Transfer Portal

Updated: Oct 4, 2023

How Rule Changes on Both Fronts Are Changing College Sports

Welcome back to the Out2Win article series! We’ll be posting articles on Linkedin consistently this summer, so keep checking back for new content! This week, we’re looking into how new transfer rules in college sports have interacted with the emerging NIL world.

The Changing Portal

Up until recently, transferring from college to college meant sitting out a year, subject to extenuating circumstances. However, with the introduction of the revolutionized transfer portal, a player can now join a new team and play immediately without having to sit out the season. This rule change has completely rewritten the way coaches build their teams, while prospective NIL opportunities have become a major consideration for student athletes as they search for their new home in the transfer portal.

The introduction of NIL combined with the one-time transfer rule has given college athletes significantly more power than they’ve ever had before. However, that increase in power has raised concerns throughout the college athletics world. The worry of many is that together, the two rule changes will cause chaos as players and coaches may attempt to manipulate the system to their benefit.

Real World Impact

Worries about the transfer portal rose into the national spotlight in the case of U Miami basketball guard, Isaiah Wong. A star in the NCAA tournament, Wong became a big name in the media this spring when his agent claimed he would enter the transfer portal if he didn’t receive more NIL money at Miami. Reports alleged that Wong was disgruntled as his NIL deal with the company LifeWallet was worth less than that of Nijel Pack, who had just transferred to Miami from Kansas State. Wong spoke out on Twitter to say the claims were false, but this situation raised concerns that players could leverage their ability to transfer to receive better NIL deals. Some schools have already retained players through NIL opportunities. For example, Wichita State starting point guard Craig Porter, who had entered the portal, decided to return to the school right after Wichita State officially launched their NIL collective.

What does it all mean?

NIL compensation is intended to be for the use of an athlete’s name, image, and likeness, but many are worried that tampering with NIL could lead to de facto pay-for-play. The question now becomes, how will the NCAA regulate NIL’s impact on the transfer portal? It makes sense that great players are getting big deals, and that the program they play for impacts what deals they can command. With that being said, the power dynamic here privileges the programs with the most resources and the players with the most star power in possibly unfair ways. Whatever the case, we’ll be sure to keep you updated on how the transfer portal and NIL impact each other in future articles!

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