February 27, 2024

With more players entering the transfer portal across collegiate sports each year, advocates have compared the freedom athletes now enjoy to the flexibility coaches have when they decide to change jobs.

Michigan State men’s basketball coach Tom Izzo countered that the comparison is wrong and doesn’t account for the financial constraints and professional experience involved with coaching changes.

Izzo said Tuesday that “unhappy” players who transfer are different from coaches who make professional decisions about their careers.

“Yeah, I have flexibility, I can leave,” Izzo said at Big Ten media day in Minneapolis. “I have millions of dollars of a buyout if I leave. I’ve paid 40 years of dues to leave. Most coaches have put in their time. Most coaches will be doing that at 35 and 40 and 50, not at 20 when one guy tells you to leave because you’re unhappy.

“You know what, what’s wrong with being unhappy? I’m unhappy most of my life. Unhappy drives you. Unhappy pushes you. Unhappy makes people realize, ‘You know what? I’m not good enough. I’ve got to get better.'”

The NCAA recently reduced the notification-of-transfer window in men’s and women’s basketball from 60 days to 45 days, meaning a player now has 45 days to transfer once the window opens the day after Selection Sunday.

“I’m not for what they’re looking to do,” Izzo said. “I think 30 days would have been plenty. I think most kids know where they’re going anyway. I think they forget we’ve got a job to do.

“Let me tell you something: This transfer portal is not going to be the best thing for the kids. You get 45 days. If you think a kid is leaving, are you going to go out and get somebody else? Because you can’t wait forever. Now it’s affecting the kids you’ve got there.”

Izzo said he believes there are valid reasons for a player to transfer, such as when a coach leaves, but warns that the future could include “unintended consequences” such as lower graduation rates. He also said the players who enter the portal and fail to get scholarship offers elsewhere are in vulnerable positions.

According to NCAA data, 19% of the Division I men’s basketball players who entered the transfer portal last year and were on scholarship at their previous schools failed to obtain scholarships at other schools. Izzo also said only a small percentage of players turn pro, which means most of the men’s players “need to graduate.”

“Let’s see what the graduation rate goes to as kids are transferring all over the world,” Izzo said. “Let’s look at the unintended consequences. … Don’t blame the kids. Blame the adults, blame us. We’re the ones at fault, not them.”

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