There are sports fans old enough to remember how transfers used to be treated by the NCAA. Collegiate athletes had to think long and hard about whether a transfer would be worth it. The grass would seem greener on the other side, but the NCAA would make it challenging for athletes to quickly make their way to the opposite side of the fence.
Even if they were able to successfully transfer, they would be forced to sit out a year before being able to participate in games with their new program. It was an extensive period to wait for gratification that was far from guaranteed.
The present-day scene allows for a much more relaxed environment with regards to student-athletes changing their mind. Collegians do not have to watch from the sidelines for 12 months before they can get into the action.
The NCAA recently released data surrounding transfers in 2022, and there are some interesting takeaways to ponder from this information.
Pretty much across the board, the NCAA recorded a spike in the number of transfers in 2022 as compared to 2021. Division I saw 8,197 undergraduate athletes switch schools in 2022, up from 6,876 the year before. Additionally, the number of graduate transfers also went up, finishing off at 3,705 last year.
There’s also a huge spike in the number of transfers in the springtime, which makes sense considering that the semester and athletic seasons are winding down. The vast majority of transfers took place from March through May last year, with the month of April accounting for close to half of all transfer activity.
Division II statistics largely mirrored that of their Division I transfer counterparts. One interesting metric involved the divisional destination of Division II athletes. Many would predict that they would try to make a jump up into Division I, and about 34 percent of them successfully did that in 2022. However, 60 percent transferred to another Division II school.
We’re in a different time and place with college athletics. Student-athletes are taking advantage of the extra year of eligibility they were granted during the truncated or canceled Covid campaigns in 2020. This gives individuals a little more wiggle room to play with since they have more time to spend at the collegiate ranks.
However, there are other underlying causes for the increase in transfers. According to NCAA research, over 60 percent of female athletes transferred due to mental health concerns, and 56 percent of female athletes also cited rocky relationships with coaches or teammates. Male athletes cited mental health as a transfer justification 40 percent of the time, and a lack of playing time opportunities as another reason at a 36 percent clip.
The new world order surrounding NCAA transfers also places a heavy burden on coaches. Program leaders feel additional pressure to try and maintain camaraderie so that they do not experience mass exodus after each season.