Welcome to the new era of college sports. As of Monday afternoon, there are currently more than 1,200 names in the NCAA Men's Basketball Transfer Portal according to Verbal Commits. That number will continue to grow as the college basketball season comes to an end tonight and May graduation could lead to more names to looking to go elsewhere. In case you were wondering, there are also over 800 women's basketball players in the transfer portal, a new record.

There are 347 Division 1 schools with a men's college basketball program. If you divide the number of players in the portal by colleges or universities, you get an average of 3.5 players per institution. That is a staggering number and it is a clear sign that college sports is rapidly changing.

Closer to home, UTEP currently has four players in the portal: Vuk Vulikić, Efe Odigie, Tydus Verhoeven, and Adam Hess. Meanwhile, NMSU has six players: Rashaun Agee, Darreus Brown, Jason King, C.J. Roberts, Marcus Watson, and Kalen Williams. That is a total of 10 players from both schools and that number could continue to rise as the transfer portal grows.

The NCAA Transfer Portal is not just a college basketball problem. It is also affecting football, volleyball, and every other sport. Instead of blaming sports programs for losing student athletes, it is important to realize that college athletics as we know it is changing. Gone are the days when scholarship athletes would grow and develop their game from their freshmen year to their senior season. Instead, student athletes are treating their college or university experience like AAU teams. Since so many middle school and high school phenoms change their club teams each year, the NCAA Transfer Portal is now the same thing for college level athletes.

Some coaches are handling the changing landscape better than others. They all now have to recruit their players 12 months out of the year, and it still might not keep them from packing their bags and leaving. Once student athletes have people telling them that the grass is greener someplace else, an athlete can go into the portal. Some change their mind and return to their previous school if their coach allows it, but most will try out another spot hoping for more playing time, a larger role, or being closer to their family. In 10 days, the NCAA could pass the one-time transfer rule, which allows every student athlete an opportunity to change schools without having to sit out a year. If and when that happens, the NCAA Transfer Portal could reach a staggering number of athletes.

It might be time for UTEP, NMSU, and every other school to remove the names of players from the back of their jersey. It would be a lot easier to root for the school on the front of their jersey rather than names on the back, so fans will not have their hearts broken every time one of their favorites leave to go elsewhere.

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