Fun Transfer portal and NIL Stories

Here is an excerpt from The Athletic.

For Iowa, it was yet another heartbreak in its roller-coaster relationship with Kadyn Proctor. For everyone else, it may be a warning.

The five-star offensive tackle’s decision to leave Iowa after two months so he can re-enter the transfer portal next month and rejoin Alabama had the college football world buzzing on Tuesday afternoon. Decommitments are commonplace in this sport, but rarely like this.

The Iowa native committed to the Hawkeyes in high school, flipped to Alabama on signing day, was a freshman starter for the Crimson Tide and transferred back home in January following Nick Saban’s retirement. Now he has made one of the more stunning transfer decisions of this portal cycle, a move that says plenty about the state of the sport.

Here are three takeaways on its implications for the spring portal window as well as this volatile era of roster management in college football.

Life in a portal without limits

In past years, Iowa’s coaching staff could be confident that Proctor would stay in the program until he graduates. The old transfer rules would’ve required him to sit out the 2024 season as a two-time transfer, a factor that typically motivated players to remain where they were.

In December, a federal judge in West Virginia granted a temporary restraining order (TRO) that made all multi-time transfers immediately eligible. The NCAA agreed to convert the TRO into a preliminary injunction through the end of the spring, then clarified that all multiple-time transfers in 2023-24 will be immediately eligible next year.

Thanks to that ruling, we’ve already seen more than 400 multiple-time transfers among FBS scholarship players during this cycle. Proctor will join the list when underclassmen can officially enter the portal next on April 16.

Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin says that rule change has been a “curveball” for everyone involved in roster management. The way he sees it, the December and April transfer windows have created an environment where players are essentially on six-month deals, which is making talent retention much more challenging for coaches and collectives.

In an interview with The Athletic earlier this month, Kiffin predicted more transactions like this one were imminent.

“Watch what’s going to happen,” Kiffin said. “You’re going to have these schools getting these portal guys in January and they paid them all this money and guess what? At the end of spring, they’re going to go back in and go somewhere else and have collected that school’s money, re-upped themselves, re-marketed themselves and have never played a down for the school that paid them the money. You would never have a system like that in any professional sport ever.”

The collective problem

Donor fatigue is a legitimate concern among collectives around college sports. Schools are urging their fan bases to fund all this talent acquisition and retention. Iowa’s Swarm Collective was able to raise more than $100,000 in two days after Proctor became available.

Now that he’s already gone, it’s fair to ask: Why should fans make that investment when players can easily change their mind and bail?