Big 4 men’s basketball coaches offer suggestions for transfer portal reform | College Sports


The transfer portal in college sports could soon face a reckoning, and men’s basketball coaches from the University at Buffalo, Canisius, Niagara and St. Bonaventure has a few ideas for reform.

How Big 4 men’s basketball coaches have adapted to transfer portal’s impact at colleges

In June, the NCAA’s transformation committee announced recommendations for reformatting the transfer portal. Among the potential changes: instituting time windows by sport in which athletes can enter the transfer portal each year.

The NCAA announced July 20 that the Division I Council endorsed a recommendation that would eliminate a rule that prohibits an athlete from transferring more than once without sitting out a year.

It would also implement “entry windows” to enter the portal: a 45-day window at the end of each season, following a championship selection such as bowl game pairings or the NCAA Tournament’s Selection Sunday, and a second window May 1-15.

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The current deadline for the transfer portal is that athletes in fall and winter sports must notify schools by May 1 that they are entering the transfer portal, and spring sports by July 1.

The Division I board of directors, however, announced last week that it wants to reconsider and refine proposed changes to the transfer portal, based on feedback from the Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and the Division I Council. The Division I Board of Directors could vote to approve recommendations made by the Division I council Aug. 31.

The transfer portal impacted athletic programs at the UB, Canisius, Niagara and St. Bonaventure, particularly in men’s basketball.

From the four Big 4 men’s basketball programs, 28 players entered the transfer portal: 10 from St. Bonaventure, eight from Niagara, five from UB and five from Canisius.

From the Division I, II and III ranks, Bona added six transfers. UB has five, while Niagara has three. Canisius has two transfers who played Division I basketball last season, and a third who played two seasons of Division I basketball but played in junior college last season.

The NCAA has not yet released data regarding the portal for 2021-22, but VerbalCommits.com, a database that tracks commitments and transfers in college basketball, reported that more than 1,750 players have entered the portal.

If the Big 4’s men’s basketball coaches had a seat at the table, here are their suggestions for change:

• University at Buffalo’s Jim Whitesell: “Shorten the windows. May 1 was the deadline (for basketball players to enter the portal without forfeiting a year of eligibility), and I think you need to move that up a bit. Maybe it’s by a week, or by 10 days, but I think it needs to be moved up in April, so you’re not as scattered there. If you moved it to, maybe April 20, or move it to a week earlier, I think you make things a little bit more settled.”

• St. Bonaventure’s Mark Schmidt: “If a head coach leaves the university, every player should be able to leave and not sit out a year. But if the coach remains at the school, they should have to sit out for a year. That’s the adjustment I would make. Kids come to the school because of a coach, the style of play. If another coach comes in, that kid may not have gone to the school. I’m all for having the portal and not having to sit out, but if the coach leaves, there should be that allowance.”

• Canisius’ Reggie Witherspoon: “They’re talking about addressing the window when you can enter the transfer portal, and that would be good.”

• Niagara’s Greg Paulus: “As you’re going through and figuring this out, there’s case-by-case (issues), so letting coaches be able to share their experiences would be helpful and give an opportunity to a student-athlete. It seems like they’re evaluating (coaches being involved) as time moves forward.”

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