Agents might be the sneaky biggest beneficiary of additional NCAA transfer reform
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Friends, a few quick housekeeping-type announcements before the #content today:
I am headed down to Garden of the Gods State Park in scenic Middle-Of-Nowhere Illinois on Saturday, and won't return until Wednesday afternoon. I'm planning on publishing an Extra Points conference realignment update on Monday AM, and we'll have a new Extra Points that will drop that Wednesday. But I will probably be somewhere without WiFi or cell service. This means that the odds that a massive bombshell happens on Tuesday morning are roughly 10000%. I'm sorry for speaking this into existence, but if I don't spend a few days in the woods away from Twitter, I might have a nervous breakdown by October.
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On Thursday, the NCAA D1 Council "endorsed a series of Transformation Committee Concepts" surrounding how schools provide benefits for athletes, the infractions process, and transfers. My reading from the update is that changes to the transfer process should be the most significant.
First, the proposed changes would create 'transfer windows', where athletes would need to indicate their intention to transfer, lest they lose their ability to change programs without losing eligibility. The actual date windows are pretty small!
FWIW: In this current cycle, only 36% of scholarship transfer entries occurred in these windows. So...it's gonna be a big adjustment.
— Max Olson (@max_olson)
Jul 21, 2022
I am of the belief that transfer windows are actually a net positive. Roster management is almost impossible if "free agency" continues over the entire year, which also makes it very difficult for athletes to make the most informed decisions about where they want to play. I don't have an opinion yet about whether those exact dates or windows are ideal, but some sort of calendar structure isn't just about keeping operations staff from having nervous breakdowns, but about helping athletes as well. Maybe this is the right move, maybe it isn't.
The other big proposed change?
In practice, as of right this second, this isn't a massive change, since many athletes who transferred more than once were able to obtain waivers. Since regular students can transfer as often as they want, and college administrators want to pretend that college athletes are just regular students, removing this prohibition make intellectual sense. That's a benefit for athlete rights and mobility, and there are tons of reasons to potentially change schools beyond just trying to secure the proverbial bag or find more playing time. Heck, I technically attended three different schools to complete my undergrad myself (American U, Ohio State-Newark, Ohio State-Main Campus).
But given how NIL is operating right now, I think formalizing that rule is going to be great news for a lot of agents. And by agents, I mean everybody who changes their Twitter bio to say "COLLEGE NIL AGENT", not just like, actually certified agents who went to law school and actually know about contract negotiations or professional ethics.
One of the most common ways for an athlete to secure a large NIL package, in the year 2022, is to hit the transfer portal and secure a deal via a collective. Some collectives are built to focus on athlete retention, others are built around supporting current athletes, and others are explicitly trying to recruit players. An athlete who has already demonstrated the ability to compete at the college level is even more valuable than an unproven high school athlete, after all.
We all know that those types of NIL deals have little to nothing to do with athlete marketability. They're talent acquisition fees, or quasi-salaries. That means that agents can take a much higher fee from those deals, sometimes north of 20%, a percentage that would be unheard of from a salary negotiation at the professional level.
If an agent knows he isn't likely to secure a big payday from professional contracts in the pros (because the agent isn't licensed, because his client isn't as valuable, etc), well, there's an incentive to push the athlete into the portal. If there is no penalty for hitting the portal multiple times, well, why not try to secure a bag every time?
Maybe that's actually best for the athlete. After all, athletic careers are short, and even five-figure payouts can be transformational. It probably depends on the person, the schools, and their goals.
But if nothing else about NIL changes, and multi-transfers become more commonplace, I wouldn't be shocked to see that long-term, it's the agents and handlers that actually make out better than athletes, long-term. And addressing that system extends far beyond the purview of the transformation committee.
We have a new edition of Going For Two this week. I sat down and interviewed Dr.Marc Christian of Intellisport Analytics.
Beyond writing a bunch about NIL, conference realignment and travel logistics, I've been increasingly interested in how teams and athletic departments actually make decisions....what kind of data they need, how they evaluate that data, and what obstacles prevent them from making the best decisions possible. Those are advanced stats questions, but also organizational systems questions. That's exactly Marc's wheelhouse.
You can watch the interview below:
Here's what else I've been working on:
For my EA Sports College Football news degenerates, I've been updating my newsletter breaking down submitted audio assets. Since originally publishing it, I've added information from Temple, UCF, Eastern Michigan and UTEP, as well as updates on Illinois and Virginia Tech that other reporters tracked down. I will update this newsletter as I obtain more information.
I did my best to try and separate fact from fiction and conventional wisdom from speculation in the whole Big 12/Pac-12 poaching story. Broadly speaking, I don't expect major changes in the immediate future, and I am not convinced that the Big 12, right this very second, is in THAT much better a position than the Pac-12 (Pac-10?). But I may be missing something!
I also reached out to Hawaii to learn tips on how programs that suddenly are facing a ton of cross-country flights can handle the logistics and athlete discomfort of massive travel...from hiring travel agents to buying neck pillows.
I also interviewed a few CA political experts to better understand why California's Governor is so mad about UCLA moving to the Big Ten, and what (if anything?) he can ACTUALLY do about it.
That's a pretty good week, in my humble opinion. Some original reporting, some silly blogs, some analysis, some FOIA work.
I can afford to do all of this because of your support. A paid subscription to Extra Points makes sure you can get every single newsletter we put out, and keeps the phone ringing and the FOIAs flying.
Thanks for reading, everybody. I'll publish again Monday, and I'll see you after I've had a little time in the woods without Twitter. Don't want to have a nervous breakdown during the season, after all.
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