Florida State coaches are concerned the popularity of the NCAA transfer portal is causing problems athletes had never anticipated.
Athletes can enter the portal when they want to leave their current program, allowing coaches to then start recruiting them. The problem is that hundreds of athletes are jumping into the portal and vying for a limited number of scholarships available around the country.
FSU men's basketball coach Leonard Hamilton said one of his staff members signed into the portal Wednesday and saw 836 basketball players listed.
"We had a discussion about 900 kids in the portal, which is problematic," Hamilton said, recalling a session during this week's ACC spring meetings. "We've created a situation where it's OK not to try to work through the challenges you have in college. Regardless of what's going on, when you have that many guys, close to 900 kids, in the portal talking about transferring, that's problematic. Now what the answer is, I don't know, but it's gotten bigger and bigger and bigger every year."
Hamilton has seen the benefits of players being able to move about freely as former guards David Nichols and PJ Savoy both transferred into FSU and were instrumental in the Seminoles' Sweet 16 run during this past year's NCAA Tournament.
FSU football coach Willie Taggart also has felt both the positive and negative impact of the transfer portal. He's had players add their names to the portal before deciding to stay at FSU, acquired players from the portal and most recently saw defensive end Xavier Peters submit his name as he looks to leave the Seminoles program.
He said he encourages athletes to talk with their coaches before signing up for the portal to see if it's truly the best choice for them. Taggart said he doesn't think many understand the negative effects of being in the transfer portal. He said players who put their name in the transfer portal and don't find another school right away could end up in limbo and without a scholarship, especially if the issue has never been discussed with the coach of the program the athlete wants to leave.
"You see some guys stuck because they just assume that they'll go in and just get a scholarship and more often that's not happening," he said. "You have kids giving up a scholarship and getting their school paid for and now they're out. I don't think that's right for the kids. I think it's just about doing a better job of studying it and doing what's best for the kids."
Taggart said one of the solutions is educating athletes about the choice to submit their names in the portal and what goes with that decision, including the possibility of losing a scholarship. Once the school year ends, coaches have the option of renewing a player's scholarship.
"I think everyone's learning right now and seeing how it's affecting everyone. I think it's affecting some different than others," he said. "Some kids are stuck in there. I don't think that's what it's for and that hurts some kids rather than helping. I think as a goal, we've found the best practice for the student-athlete is making sure they're doing what's best for them. I think part of it is doing a good job of explaining to them how it works and not just allowing them to do something that's going to affect them for the rest of their lives."
Hamilton said that while he doesn't have a quick solution to solve the issue, he said one way to alleviate it is for coaches to examine the environments they create.
"We need to have some dialogue and some conversations to see if we can create a (better) atmosphere," he said. "You have kids who have been recruited for two, three years, visiting schools, they've developed relationships with the coaches, but somehow or another when they get there, after a year or a short period of time, they feel like they need to go somewhere else. I'm concerned about what's going on and how we can come up with something that's equitable, where the guys can have more of a positive experience so they don't feel like the answer is they have to leave."