Georgia Football head coach Kirby Smart addresses the crowd at the second day of the 2019 SEC Football Media Days in Hoover, Alabama, on July 16, 2019. Smart touched on the upcoming season and answered questions from the media. (Photo/Daniela Rico)

Before October 15, 2018, collegiate student-athletes needed permission to speak to other schools about the possibility of transferring. Now, there’s a new rule that introduced the transfer portal to college football.

The portal allows for players to get in contact with other schools without the permission of their current program, making the process of transferring more streamlined and opportunistic for the players.

Now that the change has been in place for a little over nine months, coaches and players brought their unique perspectives to the table at the 2019 SEC Media Days.

How does it work?

In June of last year, the NCAA announced the new “notification-of-transfer” model. The system lets student-athletes notify their universities about their want to transfer, which forces the school to enter the student’s name into a “national transfer database” within two business days.

The database is essentially a spreadsheet with names of interested transferees and their current schools. It’s supposed to only be used by the student athletes and schools, although the decision is typically leaked to the public rather quickly.

Once the student-athlete’s name is in the portal, coaches from other schools are free to contact that individual. With the past rule, coaches and other administrators could prevent players from getting in contact with specific schools or any at all. Now, the transfer process is put into the hands of the players.

J.R. Reed transferred from the University of Tulsa to the University of Georgia in 2016, and spoke about the positives the new system provides, but also recognized the craze that it brings to the college football world.

“I know when I transferred no one knew I was transferring,” Reed said at the 2019 SEC Media Days. “I just feel like it’s more of a media thing that people obsess about. You’ve got to transfer and you’ve got to own it. You’ve got to always work wherever you go.”

Differing perspectives

Some programs such as Alabama and Georgia are so active on the recruiting scene, they have no scholarship space to look at the transfer portal for potential players. But other programs, like Arkansas, have used the system to help mold and fill out their roster.

“We were active in the transfer portal,” Arkansas head coach Chad Morris said. “I think it gives the student-athletes opportunities, which is great … And so we’ve got an area assigned in our recruiting department that comes through the transfer portal.”

The problem that Georgia head coach Kirby Smart brought up is the frequency in which the transfer portal is used and how it will leave some players with nowhere to go. There are only so many scholarships to give out and too many players have entered the portal looking for new universities to attend.

There’s still issues to be worked that have come up over the past nine months, but the potential for aiding and empowering the student-athletes is there.

“To me, it’s about the mental wellness of the student-athlete,” Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt said. “I think that’s one of the things that we have to put to the forefront when it comes to kids that want to transfer. We need to help them find their way.”

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