Over the last few days, we’ve seen three West Virginia secondary players enter the transfer portal. The biggest hits were two year starter Kenny Robinson and Derrek Pitts Jr., who was a projected starter in 2019. Also joining them in the portal is redshirt sophomore E.J. Brown, who primarily was used on special teams.
Anytime there is a staff turnover, there is going to be some sort of attrition. Players will leave based on their relationship with the new staff, how they fit schematically with the new staff, homesick, academics, playing time, the reasons are endless. Don’t be too quick to judge a player entering the portal. We don’t know their situation and sometimes their reason never gets publicized. For Robinson and former receiver Marcus Simms, they both wanted to remain at WVU. It was never their intention to leave, but they broke university conduct and have put themselves in this situation. These are young adults who are going to make mistakes, bad decisions and so on. We’ve all been the 18-22 year old blockhead that makes questionable decisions. It’s part of the early years of adulthood. So before going off on a tangent and telling the athlete to “not let the door hit you on the way out” understand that is possible you are blinded from what is actually going on. Transfers still happen with a long tenured head coaches, this is just normal in today’s world of college athletics.
The NCAA transfer portal is seen as another recruiting tool for coaches, but often times has fans frustrated. Why the frustration? Well, a lot of it has to do with how easy it is for student-athletes to transfer and gain immediate eligibility. The NCAA has been very inconsistent when granting eligibility and it often depends on which school the player transfers from and to. It seems political, but that’s what the NCAA portrays itself as anyway.
This is not a Neal Brown issue, nor is this a West Virginia issue. This is a nationwide matter that needs addressed. There is no need for concern or to panic that something “unusual” is going on in Morgantown. If a student-athlete is feeling homesick or is moving to a school close to home, that’s one thing. A lot of athletes just want to test the waters to see if they can play at a bigger program and that is okay to an extent, but it’s becoming an epidemic. Nearly everyday you will see someone enter their name in the transfer portal. The athlete can still opt to remain with his team and withdrawal their name at any time, such as West Virginia tight end Mike O’Laughlin did.
The solution? Maybe stick with the original rules that the NCAA put forth. If you transfer, you must sit out an entire season before regaining eligibility. Now if you are in a situation like Brock Hoffman (Virginia Tech) and Luke Ford (Illinois), both offensive lineman who transferred to be closer to ill relatives, then immediate eligibility should be granted. However, that was not the case for those student-athletes. The NCAA has a rule for medical waivers for instances like this that allow a 100-mile radius. Hoffman is at around 134 miles, so they did not grant eligibility, which is absurd.
So, the NCAA certainly has their own problems to fix, but how does West Virginia get started fixing their own? Take a look at Zach Campbell’s article here