GREENSBORO, N.C. — The ACC’s commissioner John Swofford wants to give the NCAA’s new transfer rules more time before making more changes.
The commissioner shared his thoughts on the NCAA transfer portal as a guest speaker at a regional meeting for the Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) association held at the ACC headquarters in Greensboro, North Carolina.
The NCAA made changes to the transfer rules last April that loosened the guidelines for immediate eligibility for Division 1 athletes. The previous standard required student-athletes seeking a general waiver to prove “egregious behavior” by their previous school.
This has helped high-profile quarterbacks like Justin Fields (Ohio State) and Tate Martell (Miami) become eligible for the 2019 season at their new schools.
Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente has likened the current system to free agency in professional sports. He’s not the only coach that feels that way, but the commissioner isn’t in that camp.
“I don’t think it’s free agency, we have to give it more time and see how it all plays out,” Swofford said.
Virginia Tech had eight scholarship players put their name in the NCAA transfer portal since its inception in October. Deshawn McClease and Hendon Hooker opted to stay with the Hokies. Five players — Rico Kearney (UCF), Sean Savoy (Maryland), Chris Cunningham (ODU), Eric Kumah (ODU) and Josh Jackson (Maryland) — have landed with Division 1 schools.
Swofford doesn’t have the numbers yet — how many players from the conference have entered their name in the portal and how many have actually transferred — but plans on studying them when they do cross his desk.
“I think it’s about finding the right balance, where’s the sweet spot that’s fair to the athlete and reasonable to the bigger picture and the stability of programs,” Swofford said.
It might not be the perfect system, but Swofford, who has led the conference for two-plus decades, is happy with the way the recent changes have empowered student-athletes.
“I’m confident this will play out in the right way,” Swofford said. “I don’t think it’s the end of the world, I think it’s a case of adjusting to a change, learning how to navigate that as a coach and a program. We are in an age where there’s a lot of emphasis on students, on athletes and what’s fair and what’s right. I think it’s a very appropriate subject matter for us to be dealing and addressing. Whether we got everything exactly right? I’m not sure, but I think we are close.”