North Texas Daily

COLUMN: Looking at the transfer portal’s immense benefits for North Texas sports

COLUMN: Looking at the transfer portal’s immense benefits for North Texas sports

COLUMN: Looking at the transfer portal’s immense benefits for North Texas sports
June 11
13:30 2021

Transferring in college athletics has been controversial from the start. Since the NCAA Transfer Portal’s creation in 2018, some writers have gone as far as to argue the transfer is “ruining college sports.”

While this new era of player movement has certainly done away with the roster continuity of old, the portal has clear benefits for athletes and schools alike. North Texas’ sports teams are no exception and have reaped the portal’s rewards time and time again.

Look no further than last season’s men’s basketball team — the first in school history to win an NCAA tournament game. Aside from senior forward Zachary Simmons, the squad’s four other starters were transfer portal additions (Javion Hamlet, James Reese, Mardrez McBride and Thomas Bell).

In addition, both softball and tennis had transfers honored as Conference USA Newcomers of the Year this season in graduate outfielder Tuesday DerMargosian and sophomore tennis player Lucie Devier. Women’s basketball was led to a historic season this past year by sophomore guard Quincy Noble, a transfer from the University of New Mexico who averaged 17.8 points and 4.3 rebounds per game.

Along with DerMargosian, grad transfer GiGi Wall (1.93 ERA, 93 strikeouts) played a key role in softball securing a program-record 38 wins and C-USA regular-season title. A 2019 transfer from Texas A&M University, junior Katie Finley held the third-best scoring average (74.74 strokes per round) for women’s golf in helping the team to its first-ever conference title. Men’s golf graduate transfer Sean Wilcox, a 2020 transfer from the University of Tennessee, helped the team to a runner-up finish at the C-USA tournament.

The list of athletes who have transferred to North Texas and seen success goes on and on. Such success stories are often necessary for Group of Five programs to be competitive as top-level high school recruits tend to choose bigger name schools.

With their recruiting advantages, big name schools also poach players who succeed at lower-level schools. Every college athlete dreams at one point or another of playing college sports for a Power Five school and if offered the opportunity, most take it.

As the portal gives, it also takes away and North Texas has seen this play out with its own student-athletes.

The Mean Green have watched homegrown talent depart in the portal like former men’s basketball guards Ryan Woolrdige (Gonzaga University) and Umoja Gibson (University of Oklahoma), as well as former football wide receiver Rico Bussey Jr. (University of Hawaii).

After contributing to the historic men’s basketball season, Reese transferred to the University of South Carolina this summer. Women’s basketball guard N’yah Boyd and softball pitcher Hope Trautwein have each entered the portal this offseason in search of new homes after playing key roles in their squads’ success.

This is the price to pay for success at the Group of Five level, and one which North Texas is rightfully more than willing to endure. While it obviously hurts to lose talent to bigger name programs, the success which comes with having these athletes at all builds important momentum for recruiting future squads. Success can act as a snowball, growing bigger and bigger to transform programs from afterthoughts to attractive destinations.

Men’s basketball now has the opportunity to build on an NCAA tournament victory over Purdue University and replace the five players it lost to the portal this offseason. In looking to reload, the team has already signed a trio of freshmen and three transfers, headlined by forward Hameir Wright (University of Washington). 

Despite potentially losing Boyd, women’s basketball has signed a pair of transfers for the upcoming season in Aly Gamez (Fresno State University) and Jaylen Mallard (University of South Alabama). Although football saw a mass exodus of transfers in January, it brings in the current No. 2 recruiting class in C-USA headlined by two touted transfers in quarterback Jace Ruder (University of North Carolina) and wide receiver Tommy Bush (University of Georgia).

Not to mention the soccer team is set to bring in former Vanderbilt University goalkeeper Sarah Fuller. Fuller made national headlines in 2020 after becoming the first woman to play and score in a Power Five college football game for the Commodore football team.

While any or all of these players panning out at North Texas is far from a guarantee, just attracting and signing them is indicative of how the Mean Green benefit from the portal year after year. So even though it is tough to watch players leave via the transfer portal, Mean Green fans should remember the portal’s continuing benefits rather than dwelling on those departures.

Featured Illustration by Miranda Thomas

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John Fields

John Fields

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