College football: another reason to curb the transfer portal | Opinion

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Here’s one more reason why the NCAA’s transfer portal — the gift that keeps on giving — continues to be a pain in the back for college sports: Alabama wide receiver Agiye Hall has been suspended by Alabama for breaking team rules, so what did he do?

He entered the transfer portal.

Rather than face the consequences of breaking team rules, Hall packed up, quit school, and began the process of selling himself to the highest bidder. When the going gets tough… the Transfer Portal gets them going. Other schools should avoid it like the plague (COVID-19); they won’t.

They will line up to sign it.

According to Alabama coach Nick Saban, Hall has been suspended for the remainder of spring training. Saban explained via 247Sports: “He is suspended from the team for violating certain team rules; whether they are academics or otherwise, it doesn’t really matter. Everyone has the responsibility and the obligation to respect the principles and values ​​and to do what they have to do. They are all there to help them be more successful, so respecting them and doing them is always very helpful. He had this opportunity once, so I don’t know what his plans are for the future.

Instead of respecting his coach and his rules, instead of fulfilling his obligation to a team that gave him a scholarship, Hall chose to leave. It is a problem.

The transport portal has deprived coaches of at least some of their ability to lead a team as they see fit. Athletes can hold the portal above their coaches’ heads. If athletes don’t like being disciplined or corrected, if they don’t like having to run laps, if they just don’t like being pulled from a game, if they don’t like being assigned to block the ground, they can transfer. This is what a manager should consider the next time he tries to coach a player – if he corrects a player, will he lose it and can he afford it?

The transfer portal – or at least its concept – is a good thing. It allows players to transfer once and play immediately instead of sitting out a season as the NCAA previously required. Athletes need a degree of freedom to change schools in order to have better opportunities to pursue their area of ​​interest, just like other students. Especially when the decision to sign with a school was made by an 18-year-old. Also, if coaches can come and go as they please, why not athletes, most of whom are more committed to a coach than a school.

But it’s not that simple, and there must be constraints.

Under the current rules of the transfer portal, college athletes have much more freedom of movement than professional athletes. Professional sports have rules to limit player movements that are necessary to maintain competitive balance. The portal is a free agency going wild. Even in the business world, there are non-competition clauses that protect a company’s competitive advantage in the market.

Players used to transfer in search of more playing time; now transfers are players who have a lot of playing time – some are stars – who are transferred simply because they like a coach who was hired by another school, or because they follow their own coach who was hired by another school, or there are more opportunities for NIL (name, image, likeness).

Sports Illustrated reported in February that more than 3,400 DI, D-II and D-III players entered the transfer portal in the previous three months. About 1,300 stock FBS players had entered the portal since August 1 — an average of 10 per team — according to Rivals.com research. Here’s another growing side effect of the portal: almost half of them hadn’t found a new school at the time.

Even the ability to catch passes from Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young wasn’t enough to keep Hall in Alabama. Nor did the loss of Alabama’s three top targets from last season, who declared themselves for the NFL Draft, and two other receivers who had already entered the transfer portal. Even Alabama’s yearly habit of sending receivers to the NFL wasn’t enough to keep Hall in school.

In the end, someone didn’t really think before opening the portal and unleashing a rush that produced many unforeseen ramifications. No one had foreseen the mass exodus that is taking place.

And then came the NIL rule, allowing players to monetize their name, image, and likeness. What’s stopping a booster from enticing a player to drop out of school with promises of financial opportunities below the NIL?

But how to repair the portal? Do you prevent suspended players, like Hall, from entering the portal? Do you require players to only be able to access the portal under certain conditions? These will be difficult to control.

Do you only open the gate at certain times of the year as suggested? There are no easy answers, but something has to be done. As Division I Board Chairman Shane Lyons told Sports Illustrated, “We’re not taking down the portal. It’s here to stay. But how to change it legally?

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