LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The customers always write.
But this time, you have exceeded my expectations. The college basketball season has been over for 16 days, and for 16 days, the primary topic in the game has been the Transfer Portal.
Who's in? Who's out? Who's in without putting his or her name in? Who's figured out their next stop? Who's going to be left without a place to go?
As I wrote Monday, we've heard from players, parents, coaches, media members and other people around the game.
I asked to hear from you, the paying customer.
What do you think about the changes that the transfer portal (which grants immediate eligibility the first time an athlete uses the portal) has brought to college basketball?
Some of you commented about my column on Twitter and Facebook. I'll sort through those comments later this week.
I gave priority to the 31 people who invested the time to respond with thoughtful emails.
The breakdown of the responses was roughly what I expected: 22 people said they were not portal fans, six like some things about the portal and did not like others, and three mostly endorse the portal.
Sharing every comment from everybody that replied would result in a column of at least 5,000 words. So I'm going to share an edited collection of responses from readers on every side of the issue.
NOT PORTAL FANS
Transfer portal, transfer portal
All it does is make me chortle
What's his name? Where'd he play?
Stays a year, then goes away
Setting aside the obvious ups and downs, I've not heard anyone voice concern that the transfer portal + NIL may be the equivalent to killing the goose that lays the golden eggs. But maybe you're wondering about it, and that's why you wrote the column?
For me, personally, it's been a turn off. And that's what I've done - turn off the TV.
I'm just one person, and apparently an exception to the rule. Data suggests that fans aren't (yet) bothered. The last regular season saw TV audiences up - Disney as a whole by 6% from the year before, ESPN up 3%, ESPN2 by 7%.
After a record first round, the NCAA tournament was down, but a lot of experts cite the absence of blue-bloods. They're probably right.
NCAA basketball has been golden for so many. It generates the revenue to support:
*athletes who get scholarships, educations, and for some, the chance to become a star, a brand, and a millionaire
*for schools, enough money to support a bunch of other sports, and increase demand for enrollment
*for coaches, a career making a nice salary doing something they love
*for sponsors, a way to bring eyeballs and ears to their marketing message.
But the funding for all of the above comes from fans. They buy tickets and tune in to watch, and sponsors see that as an opportunity to increase sales. If fans lose interest and go somewhere else, advertising money will dwindle, Conference TV packages will get smaller, and athletes, coaches, and schools will all face diminished opportunities.
Crowds are already down across the country. Increased roster churn makes it difficult to feel attached to a team. It may be the middle of next season before there's enough data to make an educated guess, but two years from now, it will have become obvious how the fans are reacting.
One of the worst things to happen to college sports. Hard to know who's who on a team anymore. It is all about the money now-a-days-not about students.
I get tired of hearing about players not getting what they are worth from colleges. Talk to any kid who graduated from college with a boatload of student loans and see what they wouldn't give for just free tuition.
I know that has more to do with NIL but with those two coming together at the same time it has just made a mess of things. If the coaches weren't paid so much I would feel sorry for them.
I have basically stopped watching one of my favorite sports being ruined. The only basketball I watch now is my alma mater Bellarmine. At least most players are there for the education.
I often refer to the Portal as the Portal Can. Not a fan of unrestricted compensation and/or limited regulation of amateur athletes, or rather, the fictitious term - student/athlete.
College athletics has become too big a business and many university boards have sold their academic souls to it.
A season schedule for football or basketball comes out these days without times and/or dates on it, all to answer to the highest power - television.
The portal is an example of a capitalistic genie. Once let out of the bottle, nobody wants to be the person to reign, regulate or govern. The excesses coming in that arena are just starting.
Not in favor of open portal transfer eligibility every season. Maybe one in 4 years, the money that can be paid should be set in a trust fund with a condition of graduation attached. It is a bit off the mark to say athletes get no compensation when considering the cost of tuition, medical care, and personal coaching advantages.
Coaching contracts should also mean something. If a coach signs for X number of years they should be on a no-compete obligation if they try to transfer early.
“When I think of Louisville basketball, I don't think of it as some generic black and red “thing.” I think of players. Darrell Griffith. Milt Wagner. Asia Durr. Reece Gaines. Angel McCoughtry. DeJuan Wheat. Peyton Siva.
Players who I watched grow, develop, and reach their potential. I can't say I “knew” them. I didn't. But I followed them. As a fan, their highs and lows were my highs and lows. And the longer I followed them, the stronger my bond to the team became.
The strength of that bond determines largely how invested I am in the team (and the game of college basketball overall).
If 50% of the roster turns over every year, I think that bond is what we risk losing.
I'll probably still follow my favorite teams, but maybe not as closely, maybe not attend games as often, maybe not wear my team gear as much. I want to cheer for players I recognize and know something about. Not, as Seinfeld observed, “laundry.”
I think the issue of the transfer portal is inseparable from the issue of NIL payments. I suspect players most likely are choosing to go where they can make the most money, though I obviously cannot prove it.
I personally hate the transfer portal and the NIL payments, but recognize that now that the "genie is out of the bottle" there is likely no going back. We are Baby Boomers who can remember when college sports was (at least in theory) amateur. Now there is no is no longer even a pretense of amateurism.
I agree totally with UNC's 71 y/o football coach, Mack Brown, who told Sports Illustrated last week, "We're the mini-NFL...We will never see amateurism again. It's gone. I hate it." I totally agree with Mack Brown.
I like your idea of a minimum 2 year commitment before an unlimited transfer.
The ability to transfer without sitting out a year is only fair.
But so is a minimum commitment.
As a long time college hoops fan? I don't like the new annual roster churn. I have no idea what I will see on say U of L's roster next year...
That bothers me ...
A mere 10 years ago we watched a once dazzling freshman named Peyton Siva lead his team to a championship as a senior. He was supported by Russ Smith, Gorgui Dieng, Wayne Blackshear and Chane Behanan. Guys we had watched for several seasons and grew to Love. I recall the new contributors as frosh Montrezl Harrell and lone transfer Luke Hancock....
We watched these guys get better and gel and Win. We grew to Love them … A mere 10 years later that feeling seems gone And I hate that ...
Kinda the crushing heartbreak of Hailey Van Lith leaving ... We've watched you all these years and POOF Gone...
There doesn't even seem to be this much roster churn at the pro levels!
There was a time when players cared about the name on the front of the jersey and getting their degrees.
Now it's ALL about the name on the back of the jersey and getting paid.
It's absolutely sad when kids straight out of high school are living better than teachers and coaches that have worked their butts off for years.
The Transfer portal is like a can of spray paint. Some use the can of spray paint to put a bright shinny coat on a used fixture to create a second life for that fixture. Others use the spray paint in ways to express themself that don't have any appeal to the general public and should have not been allowed to use the can of spray paint in the first place. Either way once the paint is out of the can you can't put it back.
Whether you like it or not, the transfer portal is part of college basketball in the USA period.
David S. Llewellyn
I like your idea about making the players stay for a minimum of two years. Overall the transfer portal is a good thing sometimes you and your coach just don't mesh and I think it is unfair to prevent a player from transferring.
My parents are UK fans, along with most of my family. None of them went there, but ... they are completely worn out on the one and done that Coach C has embraced. They no longer feel as close to the kids that play and thus feel less close to the school itself. I am a UofL fan, (graduated from there) and have gotten a real taste for what the portal is like. While different origins and reasons, they will both create the same distance that fans feel. So, I presume, after a while, the fans will be less loyal and do more what is best for them rather than the school.
I do feel that the portal has a place and should be available to players so over all a good thing. But again, there needs to be rules and guidelines that produce fairness. I like your take on it, but, no one who makes the decisions is really asking for an opinion.
I'd like to see the transfer portal limited to two transfers in four years—& apply that standard to all sports.
I think it was a good thing, for the year after the Covid year. But now it has gotten out of hand. I agree with the 2 year rule. But I wouldn't be sad to see it go away altogether. But I do get the part of a transfer when a coaching change happens.
You are correct about people learning to cope with their situation. To me it sort of stems from the everyone gets a trophy thinking.
Surely the NCAA, sees what is happening, and I'd like to think that they also are not happy. But, it may be wishful thinking on my part.
I agree with you about Kareem-Abdul Jabbar being the greatest college/pro player ever but I don't agree with your view on the portal.
The portal is already a couple of years old and you're wanting to set new rules. Before the NCAA, college administrators, AD's and coaches should change the rules, the players should make that decision.
The NCAA has made billions off of the college athletes and now that the student/athlete is getting a small taste of the money it should be them that decides what is best for them.
One more point, I don't know what is best for the college game but the people that play the game should decide what is best for them
Three reasons I support the Portal and as a fan…I will adjust:
- Coaches can leave anytime they want, without any penalty to them. Any “buy outs” are paid for them. These kids/families make a huge decision to play for a coach…and the coach leaves the next season. There isn't any rules forcing coaches to stay “two years” before leaving.
- The NCAA, Coaches & Universities make a TON of many from football and basketball; and the opportunities should be shared with players.
- Most of these players will not make much money as a professional, so why not give them a chance to make as much as they can in college.
As fans…we have to adjust.
I like the transfer portal but I think a player should only be allowed to enter it ONCE during his/her college career.
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