The NCAA transfer portal is becoming a common destination for players throughout the country. For those unaware, that’s when players exercise their right to leave a school and go to another. However, there is still the debate surrounding players becoming immediately eligible to play the following season.
NCAA transfer rules state a player must spend one full academic year at a new university before being able to participate in college hoops. Although players must sit out a year, there are still some exceptions allowing those players to become immediately eligible.
For instance, if a player is a graduate transfer, she is indeed eligible to play the very next next season. Otherwise, players would have to apply for a waiver to be immediately eligible for the upcoming season.
Destinee Walker is transferring from North Carolina to play for Notre Dame next season. Because of her graduate transfer status, she will be immediately eligible to play next season. Walker, a 5-foot-10 guard from Orlando, averaged 2.5 points and 1 rebound for the Tar Heels last season. This is a perfect example of the graduate transfer rule.
What about those players who did not graduate and are transferring?
Take former UConn guard Mikayla Coombs. The 5-foot-8 guard from Buford, Georgia is transferring to Georgia to play next season. Unfortunately, she will not have immediate eligibility. Coombs will have to apply for a waiver, then hope it gets approved, to start playing next season.
Like Coombs, there are numerous other players who are transferring next season.
- Destiny Littleton – transferring to South Carolina from Texas
- Linsey Marchese – transferring to Kent State from Indiana
- Arsula Clark – transferring to Tulane from Louisiana-Monroe
These players do not have the luxury of being able to play next season due to the transfer rules. They must sit out one year unless they were granted immediate eligibility via a waiver.
Transferring to different schools is a big risk for players. Yes, they can apply for that immediate eligibility, but it’s still a mixed bag. In some cases, these players lose that one year. In other cases, some players garner that right to play and sustain an injury. No one is saying a player cannot leave one school for another. Instead, these players must weigh their options and look at the risks of transferring. It is not like they can immediately play like graduate transfers can.
At the same time, coaches must revamp their rotation and completely re-do any sort of plans they may have for the upcoming season. Of course, players transfer every year, but the entire cycle is reliant upon the magnitude of how many players are transferring (in or out).
For example, South Carolina is losing four players because they are transferring to new schools. Mikiah Herbert Herrigan, Te’a Cooper, LaDazhia Williams and Bianca Johnson all entered into the NCAA transfer portal. Gamecocks head coach Dawn Staley is going to make some changes to South Carolina after hearing four players could possibly transfer.
As for those young women who are graduate transfers, nothing will be affecting their status and that goes for any other graduate transfers. On April 19, the NCAA did not pass a proposal that would have penalized and limited graduate transfers. Proposal 2018-106 would make teams who received a graduate transfer commit a scholarship for two years to that player instead of just one for the player’s only year of eligibility left.
“It’s definitely a win in our books,” Enna Selmanovic, SAAC vice chair and a former Cincinnati swimmer. “This provides student-athletes with more opportunities to have the best experience possible within their collegiate career.”
When it comes to the risk factor, players who transfer may have some conflicts. For instance, Indiana guard Ali Patberg inserted herself graciously into the Hoosiers’ plans. Unfortunately, she ran into a snag back in February. Patberg injured her shoulder in a 65-61 loss to Minnesota. The former Notre Dame player suffered two setbacks while a part of the Fighting Irish. Patberg transferred to Indiana for a fresh start. Due to an ACL injury, the McDonald’s All-American used her medical redshirt while at Notre Dame. Luckily, the shoulder injury was minor, and she returned February 21.
What if Patberg’s injury was severe? She would not be able to use that medical redshirt year because it was used on her freshman year at Notre Dame. Also, if the injury was more severe, Patberg would have to apply for another year via a waiver to receive another year of eligibility. And, obviously, there’s no guarantee that waiver would even be approved.
Regardless, the number of transfers in women’s college basketball is forcing many programs to make some serious changes. Back in a 2017 article by Mechelle Voepel of espnW.com, Dawn Staley noted how coaches must plan for transfers.
“You have to plan for your current roster being different because people will transfer,” Staley declared to Voepel. “At the end of every season, you find out who’s transferring, and who might be fifth-year grad students who could play. That’s part of what we do every year now, because you have to.”
South Carolina is one of the numerous programs who benefit greatly from transfers. If you need proof, go back and look at their national championship in 2017. Two of the key players on the championship team were transfers. Allisha Gray and Kaela Davis played one season for the Gamecocks due to the transfer rule. In return for sitting a year, the two current WNBA players were pivotal in the Gamecocks’ run to the championship.
Coaches must either hope players are granted immediate eligibility via a waiver or try plan it out if the player has to sit a year. Various scenarios must play out. Unfortunately, it is out of the coach’s control once the player transfers.
When a player does transfer, it takes a long time for programs to recover, at least so says one prominent name.
“It takes two years to recover from it, and it puts in a tough situation trying to fill out a roster,” Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw stated in the 2017 article by Voepel.
Transfers occur every season and women’s basketball has seen its fair share of them in the years. How programs adapt to the transfers is up to the players and coaches themselves.
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