- Gary Williams, Senior Managing Director for Alumni Relations and Athletic Development & Former Head Men’s Basketball Coach, University of Maryland (Moderator)
- Roy Williams, Former Head Men’s Basketball Coach, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
- Jim Boeheim, Head Men’s Basketball Coach, Syracuse University
- Mike Brey, Glenn and Stacey Murphy Head Men’s Basketball Coach, University of Notre Dame
- Johnny Dawkins, Head Men’s Basketball Coach, University of Central Florida
With the NCAA Board of Directors last week affirming one-time transfer legislation for all sports, which now applies for the 2021-2022 academic year, on Monday, LEAD1 Association (“LEAD1”) held this week’s webinar on the transfer issue with five legendary men’s basketball coaches, Gary Williams (former University of Maryland Head Coach), who moderated, Jim Boeheim (Syracuse University), Roy Williams (former University of North Carolina Head Coach), Mike Brey (University of Notre Dame), and Johnny Dawkins (University of Central Florida). While this legislation will provide major benefits for student-athletes, it will have significant ramifications for LEAD1 member institutions with increased transfers, particularly in men’s basketball. For those LEAD1 athletic administrators who were unable to attend the live session, here is what you need to know.
- One-time transfer is especially problematic for smaller schools. The legislation provides student-athletes with greater facility to transfer from smaller schools to larger schools (e.g., “transferring up”) to pursue opportunities perceived as a higher level without having to sit out a year. Larger schools, particularly the best programs, will generally have an easier time replacing the players who decide to leave.
- There will be increased burden on athletic compliance officers. Brey described a possible scenario where a student-athlete enters the transfer portal and does not get recruited by another team, and their original school decides not to retain that player. While according to Gary Williams, the portal might be received as the “cool thing to do,” compliance officers need to educate student-athletes, so they fully understand the possible ramifications of deciding to transfer.
- One-time transfer is not favored by “old school” coaches and fans. “A commitment is a commitment,” said Roy Williams. “Good things come from being able to withstand difficult times and fight problems.” Gary Williams also underscored the traditional notion of coaches being loyal to players and vice versa and that coaches can get hurt with what they now have “no control over.”
- Time spent recruiting transfers will “at least double,” according to Brey. It will be harder for schools to use former players as examples of success stories who developed and stayed within the same program. “Survive and adjust,” said Brey. Dawkins agreed stating that “freedom of movement is real,” but, according to Dawkins, that will not compromise his approach towards coaching student-athletes in the manner he always has. Coaches will now have to pay attention to the transfer portal “at all times,” said Brey.
- APR is a major concern. All panelists expressed their concern about possible unintended consequences with respect to institutional APR. An institution could, for example, lose retention points based upon a student-athlete departing from their institution, even while in good academic standing.
- There are major tampering concerns. There are concerns that an immediate transfer release will lead to widespread tampering, which is almost impossible to monitor. Gary Williams and Boeheim, however, agreed that there has likely always been tampering, and that student-athletes who enter the transfer portal likely already have a great idea of the schools they might transfer to.
- Public opinion now shapes the narrative. The coaches generally agreed that the college sports enterprise needs to do a better job of marketing the benefits that student-athletes already receive such as the value of a full scholarship and cost of attendance (and possibly more benefits from the Alston case). Roy Williams stated that more gradual student-athlete benefits are a good thing, but that public opinion has swayed these more dramatic changes, which impact college sports as we know it.
- Men’s basketball should be treated differently than other sports. According to Boeheim, there should be a distinction made in NCAA rules between men’s college basketball and other sports because basketball is driven by money both with regard to players aiming to play professionally and with respect to basketball funding other sports. With this rule change, “we are hurting basketball,” said Boeheim. Boeheim also noted that other sports do not have many transfers because the influence of money is limited. There are also competing alternatives to college basketball such as the G League and new and upcoming leagues that directly pay players.
- There should be changes to other NCAA rules to account for this new legislation. “Relationship building” is key to mitigate the transfer portal, said Brey. In that regard, Boeheim believes that NCAA rules should be changed to allow coaches to spend more time with their players during the summer. According to Boeheim, most players are entering the transfer portal now because they are either “not happy with the way they are being coached” or they are “not getting enough shots.” NCAA restrictions “do not fit the time period we are in,” said Roy Williams.