DUNCAN, OK — College basketball is in a precarious position.
The arrival of the transfer portal and Name, Image and Likeness within the same few years has rocked the sport to its core.
Players, finally getting to capitalize off their worth, are taking advantage of their newfound freedom of movement.
And while it’s a definite benefit to the well-being of players across the country, the double whammy of the portal and NIL taking over has made life a lot harder on coaches like Oklahoma’s Porter Moser.
“I think everybody thought it was time for the student-athletes to capitalize on (their name, image and likeness),” Moser said last Thursday ahead of the OU Coaches Caravan stop in Duncan, OK. “I think that’s the good thing.”
Unfortunately for Moser and non-blue blood head coaches across the country, the risk of losing a key player to the portal can potentially set a team back farther than in football simply due to the smaller roster size and number of players on the floor at one time.
Schools like Miami have pounced on the uncertain environment, which has accelerated the want for a standardized set of rules across the country.
“Everybody was worried about what the guardrails were going to be, and then there were no guardrails,” Moser said. “Then it opened up, now they’re trying to take a step back. Like anything, we’ll figure it out, navigate through it.
“It’s definitely challenging, no doubt about that. It’s real. It’s here, and we have to learn how to navigate it the best we can.”
Recently, the NCAA announced a first salvo of NIL guidelines, but in reality there is pessimism that these updated rules will have much of an impact.
After handing all the governance of NIL rules over to individual states, the NCAA came in and reaffirmed that boosters are not supposed to have any role in the recruitment of players.
Of course, boosters have always been barred from being actively involved in recruitment, but those rules appeared to have been pushed by the wayside over the first 10 months of the new era of NIL.
And then there’s the problem of tampering, where other schools and boosters recruit players who are not in the transfer portal at the time of first contact.
With NIL agents now officially involved in the recruiting process, Moser said the Sooners have had to be mindful of every factor when pursuing a recruit to help ensure his players are less likely to be the target of tampering.
“There's a lot of voices in everything,” Moser said. “… A lot of people are calling it the pre-portal.
“… Now more than ever we've talked about the recruiting process is to recruit the influencers in (the decision making process). Like you got to be cognizant of the people that are in (the player’s) ear, because these kids making these decisions. But I think the kids have a challenge these days of how many people are in their ears.”
Moser and his coaching staff have become well acquainted with the portal recruiting process at this point.
Upon landing the job in Norman, Moser had to cobble together a large portion of his roster via the transfer portal last year.
Now one year into the job, he’s having to replace the likes of Elijah Harkless, Umoja Gibson, Akol Mawein, Rick Issanza and Alston Mason, who have all entered their names into the transfer portal since Oklahoma’s season-ending loss to St. Bonaventure.
In turn, Moser landed George Washington transfer Joe Bamisile on scholarship out of the portal, and Wofford transfer Sam Godwin as a walk-on.
The Sooners also added Luke Northweather, the Missouri High School Gatorade Player of the Year, to his their freshman class.
But still, more changes need to come to help level the playing field in college basketball, and Moser just hopes those in charge of the rules ensure there are experienced voices in the room to help guide and future rule changes.
“I think all coaches will tell you in our meetings and everything… there's a lot of committees,” Moser said. “There's always — you wish you had a coach in the room with a voice. We're the ones living through this and you'll see sometimes rules over the last decades, in the room there's not a coach's voice.
“… These next couple years, the landscape is going to be very interesting of where things go. And you hope that there's some people in the room that's been living it from the coaches side that's in the room helping with that input and those decisions.”
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