Tobin Karlberg, 2021-22 season (Skip Hickey / SkipsPics)
It started with some mysterious social media posts.
“Thank you SC…excited for what’s next” Alissa Pili announced on her Instagram, saying goodbye to her college home USC.
“It’s really been a pleasure” UAA’s Tobin Karlberg announced.
Pili and Karlberg were being placed into a Portal…the NCAA Transfer Portal.
For many student-athletes this is the first time they've ever heard of a Transfer Portal. Is it positive, is it negative? Did the player get cut? Here’s a rundown of what it is, and what it mean’s for a college athlete.
Established in October 2018, the transfer portal was made to benefit student-athletes. Before the portal, it was difficult for players looking to transfer to reach many schools. Players had to get their coach’s permission to make contact with other schools. If their request was denied, the player would have to work a list of several college administrators to work around this.
Long story short? If you wanted to transfer to a school you would have to work through a college compliance officer, who had to reach out to each school you were considering, and each school would send paperwork to be filled out called a transfer tracer. This process had to be repeated with each school and was a repetitive paperwork nightmare.
Enter the NCAA Transfer Portal. Eliminating the tedious process and the piles of paperwork, it’s essentially a website with a database of players from every sport and all NCAA levels.
The Portal is private and cannot be viewed by anyone other than college compliance staff and one coach from each team. To enter the portal is pretty simple. Players simply ask a school compliance officer to put their name in it. There is no permission needed from a coach if they don’t want to ask. The school administrator has 48 hours to submit the player’s info. Once you’re in the portal, any coach can contact you. You can add or remove your name from the portal at any time as you gauge enrollment periods and eligibility.
The database has information that can be sorted for search. Besides name and sport, you list your school, conference and division. Interesting fact: player’s email address is the only contact info provided. They don’t include player’s phone numbers in the portal.
While the Portal was meant to give a little more control back to the student-athlete, it has it’s drawbacks. As players have the right to be searchable for transfer, school’s have the right to pull a player’s scholarship at the end of the school term when the player entered the portal. Even if the player changes their mind on transferring and returns to their original team, the school can pull any and all previous scholarship benefits and give it to a different player or incoming freshman.
The process of transfer options are now streamlined, giving student-athletes looking for a change more possibilities.
Michael Novelli is the co-founder of Prospect Athletics and serves as CEO of Innovate, an Anchorage based advertising and business consulting firm.
In 1999 he founded the AFL, Alaska’s first outdoor adult tackle football league, with roles not just as a player and coach, but as the leader of the organization. The AFL attracted past high school stars and athletes alike, with players able to use the AFL as a launching pad for college and semi-professional careers.
In two decades of heading up Innovate, Novelli has had roles with the Alaska Wild football team (Alaska's first professional indoor football team), and ten years with the Alaska Fighting Championship, Alaska's premier mixed martial arts organization.
With his two oldest kids having made the jump into college athletics and coaching, and three more active kids under the age of ten, Novelli is fully immersed as a parent and coach of student-athletes. He understands the opportunities that student athletics bring in youth development.