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Follow the Money: The NCAA Transfer Portal and NIL deals

Courtesy of: Junfu Han, Detroit Free Press

The NCAA debuted the transfer portal in 2018 in order to simplify the transfer process and increase transparency. However, the portal is always a hot topic after seasons end.

With both men’s and women’s college basketball seasons ending in early April, there has been a lot of movement within the portal. The deadline to enter the portal and still be eligible to play in the upcoming season was May 11th and many athletes took advantage of the portal in search of better teams and NIL deals.

Similar to professional athletes in free agency and the draft, sports analysts and news outlets project the top transfers. According to CBS sports, Hunter Dickinson was the top transfer that entered the portal this postseason. Dickinson was the big man for the University of Michigan for the past three years. He was highly decorated at Michigan, making the All-Big Ten first team in 2021 and 2023. Dickinson was the Associated Press Newcomer of the Year in 2021, and was the only player for the Wolverines to start in all 34 games this past season.

His resume is impressive and caught the eye of the Big 12’s Kansas Jayhawks where Dickinson committed to on May 4th.

Two years after the transfer portal was introduced came name, image, and likeness (NIL) deals for student athletes. Student-athletes are now able to make money through brand deals and with that are beginning to follow the money.

Dickinson talked about his decision to transfer to Kansas on the Barstool Sports Roundball Podcast. “The people hating on me would leave their job right now for a $10,000 increase,” Dickinson said. “I got, at Michigan, less than six figures. I got less than six figures at Michigan for the year.”

The transfer portal has also shook things up for women’s hoops. Hailey Van Lith was a standout guard for the University of Louisville, leading the team with an average of 19.7 points per game. Van Lith helped lead the Cardinals to the Elite Eight for Women’s March Madness this past season.

She announced on April 8th that she would be entering the transfer portal in the postseason and shortly after committed to the defending national champions Louisiana State University. Van Lith has taken full advantage of NIL deal opportunities as she has collaborated with big companies such as Dick’s Sporting Goods. According to SportsManor, Van Lith’s net worth is estimated to be $511,000.

Courtesy of: Kirby Lee, USA Today Sports

Van Lith’s new teammate Angel Reese is also cashing in on NIL Deals. According to Front Office Sports , Reese has the potential to earn almost $400,000 working with brands like Coach.

The combination of the transfer portal and NIL deals are changing college athletics. Division One athletes typically are given scholarships to pay for college and some think that scholarships should be enough for student-athletes.

Dickinson received backlash after his appearance on the Barstool Podcast because of his comments related to money. NIL deals bring in profit with the help of advertisements on social media.

More opportunities for student-athletes to make money will continue to affect all collegiate level sports including basketball.

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