Steve Sarkisian Reveals How NIL & Transfer Portal Have Affected Texas Longhorns

Texas Longhorns coach Steve Sarkisian weighs in on the state of college football, a proposed roster size change and much more on the first day at SEC Spring Meetings.
Texas Longhorns Head Coach Steve Sarkisian speaks to the team following the Longhorns' spring Orange and White game at Darrell K Royal Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas, April 20, 2024.
Texas Longhorns Head Coach Steve Sarkisian speaks to the team following the Longhorns' spring Orange and White game at Darrell K Royal Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas, April 20, 2024. / Sara Diggins/American-Statesman / USA
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Texas Longhorns head coach Steve Sarkisian finds himself in unfamiliar territory, attending his first SEC Spring Meetings in Destin, Florida. The head coach spoke to the press in Florida about many topics, including the current state of the transfer portal and NIL’s importance in the sport.

“Change is inevitable, I think we have to change with change,” Sarkisian said. “As long as we’re all playing by the same rules, it just is what it is. I try not to spend a lot of time complaining, I’m more solution-oriented.” 

Sarkisian touched on the state of the portal a lot in his first press conference as an SEC head coach. Texas has been one of the main benefactors of the portal’s addition to the sport, having brought in nine four or better star transfers in two seasons, including the top wide receiver in both 2023 and 2024. Texas currently has the sixth-best transfer portal class in 2024, according to 247Sports.

Texas Longhorns Head Coach Steve Sarkisian speaks to the team following the Longhorns' spring Orange and White game at Darrell K Royal Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas, April 20, 2024.
Texas Longhorns Head Coach Steve Sarkisian speaks to the team following the Longhorns' spring Orange and White game at Darrell K Royal Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas, April 20, 2024. / Sara Diggins/American-Statesman / USA

“We’re in this era of college football where we have to continually adapt,” Sarkisian said. “When I got this job at Texas we were still almost operating under the old ways. Here comes the transfer portal, here comes NIL, here comes conference realignment, now here comes a new settlement, now there’s talk of potential roster size being reduced.”

As reported by Ross Dellenger of Yahoo Sports, there have been talks of a newly proposed athlete compensation model. In this model, roster sizes would be reduced to 85 players, virtually killing off the walk-on players in college football. Previous roster sizes were not capped, and many teams had rosters north of 120 players, so the proposed shift was a big topic in Sarkisian’s press conference. 

“In the end we all would like more players,” Sarkisian said. “I’ve got 35 walk-ons on my team… what happens to those walk-ons? What about the stories of all the great walk-ons over time that really shape what all of college football is about.”

Sarkisian added that he is hopeful that they can find a common ground on a more reasonable number, but isn’t against the idea of change.

The Spring Meetings will last three days, ending on May 30th, and will feature all of the coaches and committee members in Destin. Sarkisian and the Longhorns are sure to be one of the biggest topics in 2024’s installment, and talk about the transfer portal, roster size, and NIL is sure to continue across the three days


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Evan Vieth

EVAN VIETH