When does the college football transfer portal open again?

The winter window of the NCAA transfer portal is now closed for college football players. Players searching for more opportunities or better scheme fits will have to wait until the spring window to enter the transfer database.

Rose Bowl Game - Alabama v Michigan
Rose Bowl Game - Alabama v Michigan / Ryan Kang/GettyImages
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Since its advent in 2018, the NCAA transfer portal has become a controversial and pivotal part of college football. The portal allows student-athletes to submit their name into a database that signals their intention to transfer schools, which streamlines the first step of a transfer process. Athletes are now able to tell their school's compliance office about their decision to explore a transfer, and the compliance office has two business days to enter that athlete's name into the portal.

The impact of the NCAA's transfer portal

The transfer portal is sort of like NFL free agency — or perhaps a football version of Tinder? After all, coaches and athletes still have to go through the song and dance of recruitment — the portal just allows them to connect more quickly.

Either way, the transfer portal has forever changed the way schools are creating and fine-tuning their rosters between seasons. While the transfer portal is still in its early days, more than 2,100 NCAA football players entered the portal in December 2022. Deion Sanders' overhaul of Colorado was a result of 53 transfers, including the dynamic duo of Shedeur Sanders and Travis Hunter. Transfer quarterbacks such as Oregon's Bo Nix and Washington's Michael Penix Jr. made significant impacts for their teams in the College Football Playoff. LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels, the Heisman Trophy winner, was a transfer as well.

Transfer portal windows

The process has seen refinements over time to include specific time periods during which athletes can enter the portal, making the transfer process more structured for both players and programs. The NCAA Division I Council enacted two transfer portal windows to ensure that the movement of players does not excessively disrupt the academic and athletic calendars.

The fall transfer portal window

The fall transfer portal window opens the day after the conclusion of the regular season, when the College Football Playoff and bowl participants are announced. The fall window remains open for 30 days. For student-athletes that compete in the postseason, there is an additional five-day transfer window following the games.

The past fall window opened on December 4, 2023 and closed on January 2, 2024.

The spring transfer portal window

Thousands of college football players stormed the NCAA transfer portal during the winter transfer portal. With that window now closed, players will have to wait until the spring window to have the opportunity to enter the transfer portal.

The spring transfer portal window is open from April 16, 2024 to April 30, 2024.

The spring transfer portal window is significant since it allows players to make a decision about their future near the end of an academic calendar year. The timing of the window allows student-athletes to evaluate their positions at their current schools, including playing time, scheme fit and academic considerations.

Once a player decides to enter the portal, the school can elect to revoke the player's athletic funding and scholarship. If the player chooses to leave the portal and return to their original school, the school is not obligated to reinstate the scholarship. If a coach is fired or leaves the program, that school's players can enter the portal immediately.

Entering the transfer portal isn't always an easy decision to make. The potential of losing a scholarship can cause a player to avoid taking the risk, but the transfer portal has opened doors for student-athletes while adding an additional layer of strategy to college football's competitive landscape.

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