Jim Gazzolo column: NCAA portal has sports spinning in circles

Published 1:00 pm Thursday, April 28, 2022

The NCAA transfer portal is out of control.

We can all agree on that. Any player can leave any school at just about any time.

It has become free agent chaos throughout college athletics. Coaches and fans are not happy as players bounce from one program to the next.

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I have even seen a few college players go on social media to offer their services. One even said he was only interested in a basketball program ready to give him 30-plus minutes a game. If not, the ad read, don’t bother calling.

Well, give him credit for cutting to the chase.

When will this transfer madness end? Considering it’s under the leadership of the NCAA, not soon enough.

This is the same group that took forever to punish LSU’s basketball team when it came to the alleged exchange of cash but would not give McNeese State a break on its academic football probation despite a change in coaches, grade improvements and surviving two hurricanes.

So far, swift and level justice should not be expected anytime soon.

And let’s not cry for the coaches. They jump at the first chance to earn more money at a new job. Football coaches especially are quick to jump ship, even when the season is still going.

Bowl season has merged with moving day when it comes to college football big shots. Heck, Brian Kelly even left Notre Dame for LSU despite the fact the Irish still had a shot at making the College Football Playoff last year.

I guess one could say the college skippers have proven to be better teachers than we ever thought. Their players have learned the art of self improvement.

So we should not weep for million-dollar big shots.

Still, there is a way to fix this mess if anybody in charge of college athletics is willing to think out of the box, or out of the 1970s.

Here is how:

Offer scholarships as contracts. That’s right, sign the player for two years, three years. Now all scholarships are one-year, one-way deals with the power going to the school. Split the cost.

Professionals have contracts, why not tie them to scholarships? Sign the next superstar to a two-year deal. There can be opt-outs like in the pros, but you want to keep a kid, make him an offer that he can live with.

If Alabama wants the quarterback from Nebraska after a year, and he’s under contract, make the Tide buy out the player. Nebraska gets the money and everybody is happy.

Players want to be treated like pros, coaches want their guys to act like adults, let’s just make it happen.

It seems too simple to fail.

The NCAA can set up the rights of athletes and schools but that’s not too hard. It would all come down to the contract.

One opt-out could be playing time for one player or coaching change for another. Moving down a division is a free opt-out, moving up will cost you.

It’s a way we can teach athletes what they will need in the real world, honoring their contracts.

That is something their coaches don’t always seem to do.

Jim Gazzolo is a freelance writer who covers McNeese State athletics for the American Press. Email him at jimgazzolo@yahoo.com