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James Franklin Criticizes NCAA Transfer Portal For Placing Emphasis On Athletics Over Academics

Penn State football head coach James Franklin hasn’t been shy about his disapproval of the NCAA’s transfer portal ever since several of his players entered it during the past offseason. He once again shared some of his thoughts on it at his pre-Buffalo press conference Tuesday.

Franklin was asked about Lamont Wade — one of his starting safeties who briefly explored other options in the portal this offseason. After discussing some of the conversations he had with Wade while he was in the transfer portal, Franklin shared some additional thoughts on the NCAA’s new transfer process.

“Obviously we’re happy that [Lamont]’s here, and the one thing that I probably talked about during that process more than anything is the Penn State degree, which is the most powerful and most important thing,” Franklin said. “That’s probably my only issue with this whole transfer portal. The NCAA, in my opinion, used to be academics-driven. For us to think that any of these [transfer] decisions are anything more than football decisions isn’t accurate.”

“I think most of these decisions are being driven by football. The college athletics that I grew up with was driven based on academics. Don’t get me wrong, the athletic experience was very, very important, but it was in that order. What I’m seeing right now is a little bit of a shift that’s, to me, somewhat concerning.”

Penn State lost a number of players — including projected starting quarterback Tommy Stevens, wideout Juwan Johnson, and depth safety Ayron Monroe — to the portal this offseason. The Nittany Lions, however, definitely used the portal to their advantage by bringing in kicker/punter Jordan Stout and wide receiver Weston Carr prior to the start of the 2019 season.

Franklin said the portal “over-corrected” the problem of coaches having too much power to block transfers in February of this year. He likened the transfer portal to “free agency” and suggested a few potential changes, which included allowing coaches to block players from moving to a hand-picked list of five teams or their future opponents.

Penn State’s sixth-year head coach also criticized how public the transfer process has become because of the portal. News broke of most Penn State players’ entry into the portal before they made announcements on social media. One university administrator allegedly gave their transfer portal username and password to a member of the media, according to 247Sports.

The NCAA transfer portal officially launched on October 15, 2018, and it essentially makes the start of an athlete’s transfer process much easier. Instead of having to ask their current coaches for permission, players can simply submit their name to an online portal that allows other teams to immediately contact them.

Entering the portal isn’t a binding agreement that forces players to leave their current team. Wade and wide receiver Cam Sullivan-Brown both returned to Penn State’s active roster after withdrawing their names from the portal. However, James Franklin wouldn’t have been obligated to bring them back if they were still in the portal at the end of the spring semester.

Student-athletes who haven’t graduated still have to wait a year to play if they choose to transfer, but there are a few exceptions to this. Players can apply for a hardship waiver to become immediately eligible, which is what Justin Fields did to get immediate eligibility at Ohio State.

Additionally, walk-ons on one team can be immediately eligible to play if they’re offered a scholarship by another school. This new rule is the reason why Jordan Stout is immediately eligible to play for Penn State despite announcing his commitment to the program on June 1.

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About the Author

Mikey Mandarino

In the most upsetting turn of events, Mikey graduated from Penn State with a digital & print journalism degree in the spring of 2020. He covered Penn State football and served as an editor for Onward State from 2018 until his graduation. Mikey is from Bedminster, New Jersey, so naturally, he spends lots of time yelling about all the best things his home state has to offer. Mikey also loves to play golf, but he sucks at it because golf is really hard. If you, for some reason, feel compelled to see what Mikey has to say on the internet, follow him on Twitter @Mikey_Mandarino. You can also get in touch with Mikey via his big-boy email address: [email protected]

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