Since 2018, the NCAA Transfer Portal has completely changed the landscape for student-athletes who are looking to navigate the recruiting process. Its become a major conversation in the world of collegiate athletics, as many people are comparing the player movement we see today to free agency at the professional ranks. It has also tremendously impacted current high school athletes looking to compete at the next level. Now your competition for a roster spot isn’t just the athletes who are in the same graduation year as you anymore, but current college athletes as well.

There are a number of reasons that student-athletes may decide to transfer colleges. The most typical reason we have seen is for a student-athlete to find somewhere that will lead to a better opportunity for more playing time. Other students have also cited looking to get closer to home, a head coach moving on to a new program, or even receiving better opportunities to earn money through NIL partnerships.

Here is everything you need to know about the NCAA Transfer Portal whether you are a parent, student-athlete, or a fan of college sports looking for more clarification on how your favorite team is finding new talent.

What is the NCAA Transfer Portal?

The NCAA Transfer Portal has become a one-stop-shop for college student-athletes to find a new home, and for college coaches to find talent seeking out new opportunities. It is defined as a compliance system to create a more efficient transfer process for collegiate student-athletes. It is designed to increase efficiency, as well as transparency so student-athletes can express their aspirations to college programs who are looking to add on talent.

Once a student-athlete has decided they want to move on to a new school, they must contact a university compliance administrator who is required to submit that athlete’s name within two business days of the request.

How can student-athletes enter the NCAA Transfer Portal?

The first step for every student-athlete when they decide to enter the portal is to communicate with a compliance officer at their current school. That student-athlete must then be submitted to the online database of players looking to transfer within 48 hours of that request. The notification of transfer windows is dictated by the sports season you compete in.

Once your name has been added to the portal, that gives programs from other schools the opportunity to start communicating with student-athletes directly.

Each Sport has a transfer window that they must follow to start communication with other college programs. The transfer windows by season are as follows, which officially was announced in August of 2022 by the NCAA Division I Board of Directors.

Fall sports: A 45-day window beginning the day after championships selections are made in their sport, or May 1-15. Reasonable accommodations will be made for participants in the Football Bowl Subdivision and Football Championship Subdivision championship games. 

Winter sports: A 60-day window beginning the day after championships selections are made in the sport.

Spring sports: Dec. 1-15, or a 45-day window beginning the day after selections are made in the sport. 

Why are so many student-athletes using the NCAA Transfer Portal?

The reason why we are seeing so many athletes transfer to new schools (including nearly 12,000 students in 2022 alone) has a lot to do with a rule change that became official in September of 2022. This allowed all student-athletes who are transferring for the first time, and who are in good academic standing from their current school to have immediate transfer eligibility when they arrive at their new campus. Before this, all student-athletes who transferred were required to sit out a full season before getting the opportunity to compete in their new program. This was a major change in the landscape of how college athletics will operate moving forward, giving more freedom and access to student-athletes to find their best fit without missing out on a year of competition.

What does this mean for high school student-athletes?

The recruiting process was already extremely competitive, but with the new implications of NCAA Transfer Portal, it has made it even more competitive. High school juniors and seniors no longer have to worry about their peers in the same graduating class when looking for programs they want to compete for. To remain competitive, college coaches now must try to find the best talent in the portal, as student-athletes with collegiate experience may be more prepared to make an immediate impact on a new team. It is imperative for high school student-athletes with an interest in pursuing college athletics to be even more proactive in their recruiting process.

How can SportsRecruits help student-athletes navigate the recruiting process?

SportsRecruits is a recruiting platform that empowers student-athletes to achieve their dreams by making the recruiting process simple for those looking to compete at the next level. It is a one-stop shop that gives student-athletes the ability to publish athletic and academic information, research college programs, and communicate with college coaches directly through our built-in messaging system.

We have seen many student-athletes looking to transfer who want to utilize SportsRecruits to connect with college coaches once they’ve entered the portal. Make sure to read our help article, Getting Started as a Transfer Student on SportsRecruits to make sure coaches know you are looking to transfer!

The NCAA Transfer Portal has made starting communication with college coaches early on in your high school career even more important. Establishing relationships will the programs you are interested in will make the recruiting process easier to navigate.

Sign Up Today and take the first step on your recruiting journey!

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Mike Babich is a Senior Recruiting Analyst at SportsRecruits. Mike has experience in collegiate athletics as a former football student-athlete at Mount Ida College, as well as a Graduate Assistant and Assistant Football Coach at Long Island University. He also served in the role of an Admissions Counselor for two years at Molloy College in Rockville Centre, New York. He has a passion for helping student-athletes better navigate and understand the recruiting process.