College sports already adapting to new NCAA transfer rules

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FILE - North Carolina coach Mack Brown speaks prior to his players participating in the school's Pro Day football workout for NFL scouts in Chapel Hill, N.C., in this Monday, March 29, 2021, file photo. The NCAA made it official Thursday, announcing the Division I Council had voted to approve a proposal that would permit all college athletes to transfer one time as an undergraduate without having to sit out a season. There's over 2,000 kids that went into the football transfer portal, North Carolina coach Mack Brown said. The last update that I got was that only 37% had a place to go.(AP Photo/Gerry Broome, File)

As spring practice winds down, Arkansas coach Sam Pittman sees some potential holes in his roster.

Arkansas didn’t use the maximum 25 scholarships this year on its incoming recruits so it has a few left over to hit the transfer market, where there is no longer any question about whether athletes who switch schools will be immediately eligible to compete.

“We might take a tight end," Pittman said. “The bottom line is whomever we took would have to be a D-lineman or someone with the ball in his hands. I don't think we'd take an offensive lineman in the portal right now.”

The NCAA made it official Thursday, announcing the Division I Council had voted to approve a plan that will allow all college athletes to transfer one time as an undergraduate without having to sit out a season.

The so-called one-time exception that has been available to athletes in most college sports for years will now also be available to football, men's and women's basketball, men's ice hockey and baseball players who transfer from one Division I school to another.

It's a big change, a long time coming and it has some in college sports, especially football, worried about the potential for unintended consequences: Fewer scholarships available to high school recruits. Power programs poaching players from small schools. Rosters turning over quicker than coaches can keep up.

While those are all real concerns, it has been apparent for several years this was coming and coaches have already been operating in this new reality of increased player freedom.

“I don't think anything's changed,” Penn State football coach James Franklin said. “Let's be honest, over the last two years everybody knew all the transfer policies and the requirement to get immediate eligibility and everybody was saying whatever they had to say to become eligible.”