The Truths of the Transfer Portal
The portal has been the most talked-about topic in college sports for years now. Here's some insight that you might not know from the Auburn coaches and players inside it.
Today’s newsletter is a piece from Jake Weese, a senior in sports journalism at Auburn University. You may recognize Jake from his previous work at The Auburn Plainsman and the Opelika-Auburn News.
This spring, Jake did a reporting project on the transfer portal and its effects on Auburn coaches and players from multiple sports. Here is his feature story from that reporting project, featuring some familiar names and faces to readers of The Observer. Be sure to follow Jake on Twitter @TheJakeWeese.
PG Wendell Green Jr. and assistant coach Steven Pearl (Todd Van Emst/Auburn Athletics)
Rebekah Rath thought she knew what she wanted in a school. Maryland was a huge school in the city, and that’s what she wanted her college experience to be.
Two years later, she realized that she had made a mistake.
Like so many other collegiate athletes, Rath entered the transfer portal. And, in Rath’s case, one of the main factors that helped her decide was the living situation.
“I came here, and I found an apartment,” Rath, an outside hitter for Auburn’s volleyball team, said. “They said, ‘If you want this apartment, you have to sign a lease today.’”
Rath’s sudden change demonstrates the often-misunderstood transfer portal and the struggles athletes and coaches deal with when going through the process.
While most fans think of the transfer portal as the collegiate version of free agency where athletes go to the highest bidder, especially with the advent of NIL, it is far from that.
Since the NCAA approval of the one-time transfer rule, the recruiting site Rivals has set up a Twitter account to track the football players that enter the transfer portal.
From August 2021 to January 2022, 1,254 FBS scholarship football players had entered the transfer portal. (Hundreds more have entered in the months since.)
While people look at that and think it’s just a free agency pool for schools to grab players, the expanded numbers tell a more complicated story — 625 players found new schools, 575 were still in the portal, and 54 withdrew their names altogether.
INF Sonny DiChiara (Jacob Taylor/Auburn Athletics)
It isn’t always glamorous.
Jake Wyandt had to keep it a secret.