The biggest event in college basketball has opened. People are tweeting, eyeballs are drawn from across the nation, coaches are scrambling, players are reviewing film, and, my goodness the tweeting. No, I’m not talking about the NCAA tournament, the crown jewel of American sport, but rather the transfer portal opening.
According to the NCAA, the transfer portal for winter sports, such as basketball, is “A 60-day window opening the day after championship selections are made in that sport.” That means that after Selection Sunday comes Get Me Out of Here Monday. This creates something of an arms race in basketball. The evidence of that was clear today when future Georgetown coach Ed Cooley was on a Zoom call with TCU player Eddie Lampkin. Both Cooley and Lampkin are still in this year’s tournament. (Lampkin is injured.)
There is an easy solve to this. The NCAA can keep the 60 day window if they like and simply change the rule to state that the window opens after the championship itself has been completed, not just the selections for it. This allows the coaches to focus on what they have going on in front of them, winning tournament games, and gives the players a bit of an emotional cooling down period after their season ends.
Changing this only changes the mechanic, not the actual outcome. Players don’t hit the transfer portal and then immediately leave the school at which they are enrolled. Eddie Lampkin won’t have left TCU and pop up on the
Georgetown Providence campus tomorrow. That’s not how it works. Lampkin, or any transferring player, will finish the semester wherever they are in order to stay academically eligible. That won’t change if those announcements have to wait until early April.
For right now, the opening of the portal leaves coaches who have achieved what they wanted with their season at a tremendous disadvantage. Sure, Nate Oats doesn’t need to worry about game planning for Texas A&M CC, but now he can’t focus on obfuscating in press conferences quite as much as normal. He might be distracted by trying to land a transfer, slip up, and accidentally hold one of his players responsible for the death of a 23 year old mother. We can’t have that.
Less facetiously, coaches like Sean Miller are in a bad spot. They must prep for first round games and break down the teams in their pod, but they must also keep an eye on who is hitting the portal and make contact with the players that interest them. They also have to do this without knowing which of their players are leaving, because those guys are all still preparing to play for the team they are currently on. It’s a completely needless mess.
So move the transfer portal back. Make a day of it, if you want. Turn it into a thing that pulls more eyes away from early season baseball and the absolute drudgery that is the NBA season. Just don’t leave it here, an unwanted interloper on the biggest stage in college basketball.