What Is the Transfer Portal In College Football?

min read
Alabama center Seth McLaughlin (56) takes the field against Tennessee during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Alabama center Seth McLaughlin, who had several errant snaps against Michigan in the College Football Playoffs, has entered the transfer portal, Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2024.
(AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)
Chase Kiddy @chaseakiddy Jun 28, 2024, 1:02 PM

The NCAA transfer portal launched in the fall of 2018. Since then, it has completely revolutionized – for better or worse – the way that student-athletes manage their college careers.

The transfer portal has a huge year-to-year effect on personnel movement between teams, which also results in a downstream effect for online sports betting

But while newer fans can consider the odds implications, they may be looking for answers to more basic questions. With that in mind, here’s a brief explanation of the transfer portal. 

What Is the Transfer Portal?

The NCAA transfer portal is an administrative and compliance tool that facilitates the rapid transfer of student-athletes from one team to another.

Transfers were less common in the past for several reasons, including some of the following major points: 

  • The NCAA limited eligibility for student-athletes who transferred from one team to another.
  • Amateur athletics had built up a culture of team-focused achievement over the decades, scorning and deemphasizing players who made decisions for personal growth or potential economic gain.
  • If a player did transfer, there was no real system that allowed players to showcase their talents or availability to other schools that might want them.

The 2018 introduction of the transfer portal addressed the last bullet point, creating an online portal where students could submit their intent to leave their current school.

The result is a massive database of college players who are signaling they’re open to recruitment to a new destination. Because of this, many modern college staffs have assistants who are responsible for constantly checking the transfer portal to find potential new players.

It’s important to note that once a player has entered their name into the NCAA transfer portal, the portal is nonbinding and doesn’t guarantee anything. Especially with so many names constantly entering the transfer portal, there is never a guarantee that players will find themselves in a better situation.

Indeed, many players who enter their name into the portal end up transferring to a lower level of competition, remain at their original school the following season, or – in the worst-case scenario – without a team to play for at all. 

Does the Transfer Portal Exist Beyond College Football?

Yes. The transfer portal arguably gets the most attention in college football, where large roster sizes often mean dozens of players are always coming or going on every team.

However, the transfer portal is an NCAA tool, meaning it is instituted for all sports at every level of the NCAA operation. 

Transfer Portal Dates, Schedule

In college football (and all NCAA fall sports), the transfer portal is open for a few weeks following the conclusion of the regular season. After the 2023 season, it was open from Dec. 4, 2023 – Jan. 2, 2024. 

The NCAA makes additional accommodations for players who were on teams that were playing postseason games during that initial window. 

College football has an additional spring transfer window from May 1-15. This is sometimes used by players who are unhappy with the developments during the spring game and spring football in general. 

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About the Author

Chase Kiddy

Read More @chaseakiddy

Chase Kiddy is a writer for BetMGM and co-host of The Lion's Edge, an NFL and college football podcast available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and everywhere else. He has also written for a number of print and online outlets, including the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Washington Post, Daily News-Record, and HERO Sports. His first novel, Cave Paintings, is in development.

Chase Kiddy is a writer for BetMGM and co-host of The Lion's Edge, an NFL and college football podcast available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and everywhere else. He has also written for a number of print and online outlets, including the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Washington Post, Daily News-Record, and HERO Sports. His first novel, Cave Paintings, is in development.