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How similar is the NCAA Transfer Portal to free agency in professional sports?

ByScotty Jenkins

3 min read

How similar is the NCAA Transfer Portal to free agency in professional sports?

The NCAA Transfer Portal is a great platform that is beneficial to student-athletes. It allows student-athletes to explore other options in a case where the program they signed up for is not where they intend to complete their college careers.

A lot of students have benefited a lot from the NCAA transfer portal already, since it was established in 2018. The transfer portal will affect high school recruits positively because, with it, they can easily get transferred to another school of their choice if they are no longer comfortable with the one that recruited them earlier.

Is the transfer portal like free agency for college athletes?

Not exactly, but the two offer a lot of the same opportunities for athletes. Like free agency, the NCAA Transfer Portal allows athletes to search for the best college for them to play.

Unlike free agency, the college athletes entering the NCAA Transfer Portal can do so at any time. These college athletes are not in a contract with a university and can decide to leave at any time throughout the season or offseason. Professional athletes often are bound by the terms of a contract and can only enter free agency when the terms of those contracts are no longer applicable.

Let's discuss extensively what free agency means.

What is free agency in professional sports?

A free agency is a legal status that permits a professional athlete to negotiate an employment contract with his preferred team rather than being tied to only one team. An athlete can decide to become a free agent after they have served a certain amount of time under their contract with a team.

With free agency, athletes that have attained the peak of their careers can advertise themselves out to teams that are willing to pay them a lot of money and provide them with fantastic benefits.

Professional baseball was the first main sport that adopted a formal free agency policy in 1975. Then other sports like football, basketball, and hockey adopted it afterward. Before the advent of free agencies, sports franchises usually have total control over individual players.

The players' contracts usually contained reserve clauses that restricted them to one team. Players who were not satisfied with their team couldn't do much, the only option they had was to get traded to another team.

Free agency is beneficial to exceptional athletes and especially younger athletes who can maximize their earnings when the terms of their rookie contracts have ended. After their contract expires, they are most likely to get fantastic offers from their rival teams that are worth millions of dollars. But for less successful athletes, if their contract expires, they may find it difficult to get good offers from another team.

What are the negatives of free agency?

Free agency also has its downsides if you look at it from a team's point of view. Free agency can make a team lose their star players. Usually, teams bid for free agents, that sign with the highest bidder. In the case of a "restricted" free agency, a player can become a free agent but he would be subjected to some kind of requirements.

For instance, a team might retain the right of first refusal, which means it can retain the player if it decides to match a rival team's offer. Free agents can also be limited based on age or years served. For instance, in professional hockey, a player may become a free agent after finishing four seasons successfully, but the team will hold restricted status if he is under the age of 31.

Is the Transfer Portal a good thing?

The NCAA Transfer Portal is one of the best platforms that student-athletes should take advantage of if they want to easily get transferred to another school and if they want to explore other options. The downsides only exist for the coaches, universities , and fans who pour time, emotion, and energy into a college athlete who decides to leave their school shortly after arriving. Then again, the NCAA Transfer Portal makes it easier than ever to replace athletes who leave your school with other big name athletes from schools you are competitive with.

The transfer portal will have a positive impact on high school recruits because they don't have to stress themselves so much if they decide to get transferred to another school.

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