If college football coaches have their way, a change will be coming to the transfer process.
Todd Berry, the executive director of the American Football Coaches Association, told ESPN that the AFCA will propose implementing specific windows — one in late fall and another during the spring — in which players can put their names into the transfer portal.
The fall window would open on the final Sunday of November and go until the early signing period begins in December. The other window would span April 15 to May 1. Players wouldn’t have to choose a new school during those windows, but those would be the time frames to enter the transfer portal. Both windows align with contact periods in college football recruiting.
Before the portal formally went into effect on Oct. 15, 2018, college athletes needed permission from their school to seek a transfer. With the implementation of the portal, the athlete now simply informs the school of his or her decision to transfer, removing the upper hand that schools long held over athletes hoping to change schools.
Under current rules, an athlete can enter the portal at any time. For college football players to be immediately eligible at their next school without a waiver, they need to enter the portal before May 1, a date that coincides with the academic calendar.
According to ESPN, adding transfer windows is considered a "foregone conclusion" by some in the NCAA's football oversight committee.
Berry said the current portal setup without windows has created "turmoil" and "chaos" with roster management. He thinks the coaches' proposal likely will go to the NCAA Division I football oversight committee and the Division I transformation committee. A football oversight committee source told ESPN that transfer windows are a "foregone conclusion."
Transfer rules have loosened significantly in recent years
In pre-portal times, if a player wanted to leave a school, the school — if it granted the player permission to contact other schools — could place restrictions on the other schools the athlete could communicate with.
More often than not, athletes were limited from speaking to schools in the same conference or on future schedules. In the months that followed the implementation of the portal, most conferences loosened restrictions on transferring within the league.
The transfer floodgates, though, really opened when the NCAA approved the one-time transfer rule, which allows immediate eligibility for first-time transfers moving to a new school. Previously, transfers who hadn’t already graduated needed to sit out a year before suiting up for their new team.
There’s also the NIL component with the allure of financial gain potentially coming with the move to a new school.
Why do college football coaches want transfer windows?
For coaches, the current transfer setup has made roster management a logistical nightmare.
With the two proposed windows, players would be able to pursue other opportunities after the regular season and after spring practice. From a player perspective, you’d know where you stand on the depth chart and can make the decision on the best path forward, albeit in a much more restricted time span.
Coaches would then know which positions they needed to address both in high school recruiting and via the transfer market. There’s also the issue of constantly needing to re-recruit your own roster over the course of the season and offseason, with the threat of a transfer constantly looming.
The brief two-week period, though, could pose a significant challenge for programs on the player personnel side. For staff members whose job is to scout players from the portal, sorting through such a massive influx of available players during the transfer window would undoubtedly be a challenge.
At the same time, players don’t have to commit to a new school during those windows. They just have to put their name into the portal. From there, they can take their time and sort through the options available.