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The View From Pluto: The Sports World Falls Silent But the NCAA's Transfer Portal Is Humming

Anthony Roberts
Kent State sophomore guard Anthony Roberts announced recently that he's entering the transfer portal.

The sports world has gone quiet during the coronavirus pandemic, but there’s a lot going on behind the scenes. This is the time of year that many college athletes start looking for new teams, and they put themselves in what’s called the NCAA’s Transfer Portal.

WKSU sports commentator Terry Pluto explains that it’s a database of every athlete who has interest in playing somewhere else.

Undergrad vs. Graduate Transfer Portal 
Pluto says this portal removes the barrier of students having to ask for permission to transfer, much like free agency in pro sports.

"For example, there's a kid who plays basketball at Kent State, Anthony Roberts, who's played two years," he said. "He wants to see if he can play for a bigger school so he enters the transfer portal so other schools can contact him. So, while they can't visit schools because of the pandemic, you could FaceTime them or call them."

Since Roberts is an undergrad, he would have to sit out one season before he could play for another school. Pluto says what's most intriguing to him is the graduate transfer portal. Athletes who complete their undergraduate degree but still have one year of eligibility remaining can transfer and play immediately. 

"I know bigger schools have these low-level assistants, and they're just looking at different places, say Kent State or Cleveland State, and targeting guys who have a chance to become graduate transfers," he said. "And even before they're in the portal, they may send a back-channel message to somebody who knows the kid that they're interested."

"If you are Dennis Gates at Cleveland State or Rob Senderoff at Kent State, you have to turn around and re-recruit your own guy."

Coaches re-recruiting their own players
Pluto cited two local players who likely were targeted for the transfer portal, but decided to stay at their respective schools.

"Danny Pippen of Kent State is a good example. (He's a) 15-point scorer and their top rebounder," Pluto said. "He had a chance to go into the graduate portal and be recruited by all kinds of schools. Al Eichelberger of Cleveland State has his business degree and has one year left and could have gone anywhere."

Pluto says it puts coaches in a tough position.

"If you are Dennis Gates at Cleveland State or Rob Senderoff at Kent State, you have to turn around and re-recruit your own guy."

Pluto said before Ohio's stay-at-home order, Cleveland State coach Dennis Gates went to Saginaw, Mich. to re-recruit Eichelberger. "They talked to his parents even though they knew him, and they treated him just like they would a top prospect they wanted to go to Cleveland State."

As for whether these transfers work out, Pluto says, "Sometimes, but a lot of times it doesn't. Kent State had a couple kids recently (who) went to places up higher and hardly played. Had they stayed at Kent State, they would have started."

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