As this season’s transfer portal numbers explode, coaches weigh in on the surge

The NCAA’s transfer portal has been a hot topic since the tool was introduced in October 2018. It gives student-athletes a streamlined transfer process as they can enter their name into a database that is accessible to coaches and administrators NCAA-member athletic programs. Prospective coaches can view what players are available and begin contact. Students are eligible to transfer right away and play immediately if they follow deadlines for intent to transfer.

Each year, the overall number of women’s basketball athletes who have entered the portal has increased, and heated up during the two years that the Covid-19 epidemic wreaked havoc on schedules and the NCAA tournament.

During the 2020-21 season (August to July), 1,197 DI women’s basketball players entered the portal. Looking at the upwards trend this spring, the 2021-22 season will surpass those numbers.

As of March 31, 2022:

  • 974 DI women’s basketball players are in the portal, a jump of 57 players in 24 hours.
  • 1,529 players from all three divisions are looking to transfer.
  • 309 DI women’s basketball programs have had student-athletes in the portal this season; that leaves nearly 50 schools without players looking to transfer.

Today during his pre-Final Four press conference with media on Thursday, Louisville head coach Jeff Walz gave his thoughts on why so many students are looking to jump ship, many after just one season.

I always like to say, the grass is greener on the other side because it’s fertilized with a bunch of bull…. I think there are a lot of players that will jump into the portal after one year that don’t really have a good grasp of why they’re doing it. But then there’s other situations — we’ve had players here — I’ve had some guards that have moved on and had wonderful careers because they were playing behind Asia Durr. And they came into my office and we sat down and talked, and they said, hey, I just want the opportunity to play more, and I totally respect that. It was great for them. I still talk to the kids.

South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley also commented extensively on the portal during her Final Four media time. She also indicated that a player from her team entered the portal but declined to reveal their identity.

Staley’s thoughts:

So the portal, I think the portal is much like social media. It’s the fad. It’s a big ol’ fad that just keeps continuing. There are more people in the portal than there are scholarships, and the effect on freshmen, sophomore, juniors, and seniors in high school, they’re going to feel it, because most teams will look for just a little bit more experience of having played on this level. Some of them want to move up, some of them want to move down, the people that are in the portal.

Is it out of hand? It absolutely is. I don’t know how you control it. But it’s a student-athlete’s — it’s their way. It’s their way of controlling their own destinies, and it’s their way of — I don’t know if it’s an escape. I don’t know what it is. But it’s going to happen to all of us. I’m sure we’ll probably have some after this season because if you’re a competitor, you want to play. You want to play. I don’t think they signed up for — like a third of our team sits on the bench and doesn’t really play a whole lot. Is that really fair to them to have to go through their entire careers or do they feel the pressure of wanting their goals and their dreams of playing in the WNBA?

You have to allow them that space, but surely it’s way, way, way, way out of hand. But it’s become a part of a recruiting tool for us, and everybody is going to utilize it. I’m not going to say we’re not going to go in the portal. No, there’s some really good players in the portal that if you feel that they can help your program, when you lose what you lose. Like we’re going to lose several people just by graduation. We’re going to lose two of these players up here, juniors, to graduation next year, and we’ve got two more of their classmates, a big part of what we do. How do you replace it?

So the portal is part of it.

UConn head coach Geno Auriemma also expressed an opinion on the portal numbers:

 I don’t care if they leave. Players leave all the time. Coaches leave all the time. That’s life.

When we got back from South Carolina, we had three or four of the kind of practices we used to have when you could coach kids, and half the team loved it. The other half were a little bit shocked. But half the team loved it.

I think they understood — we don’t practice like that anymore. Not like we did 15 years ago. Our practices aren’t like that.

But there’s still only one way to win a championship, and you have to be disciplined and you have to play hard, and you have to aspire to be great.

I’ve never had a really good player leave my program, in 37 years, that left and made it big at a top 10 or top 20 school. That’s just isn’t going to happen. If you can’t play for me, if you can’t play for us at UConn, you can’t play anywhere at this level. I let these guys be who they are. I just have certain dema

Some previous portal notes Hoopfeed posted on Twitter this month:

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