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Mike Candrea on the new NCAA transfer portal: ‘I don’t like it’

Photo courtesy Arizona Athletics

Longtime Arizona softball coach Mike Candrea is not a fan of the new NCAA transfer portal.

“I don’t like it,” the 34-year head coach said last week. “I think it’s almost a step of free agency.”

If you are unfamiliar with the transfer portal, it is a new system implemented in October that “allows a student to inform his or her current school of a desire to transfer, then requires that school to enter the student’s name into a national transfer database within two business days. Once the student-athlete’s name is in the database, other coaches are free to contact that individual,” per the NCAA website.

From there, student-athletes can still opt to stay with their current school or they can go ahead and transfer without much of a penalty (in softball, especially, because players are not required to sit out a season if they transfer).

“I think there are times when maybe a transfer is the right thing, but what I hate to see is how it’s kind of depleted our conference a little bit,” Candrea said. “And to me, that’s a little scary. And I hope it doesn’t continue to go that way. But it’s another brilliant move by the NCAA to have this transfer portal and I don’t like what I’ve seen so far. That’s a personal opinion, but I guess we’ll kind of see where it goes from here. I’m sure there’ll be some adjustments along the way.”

Arizona has not lost any players to transfer since the portal came into existence, which Candrea is thankful for, but Pac-12-champion Oregon lost seven players, including its top three pitchers, while Arizona State lost ace G Juarez, star infielder Danielle Gibson and a few others.

Both schools reached the Women’s College World Series last season and are now expected to take a step back, perhaps even a major one, as a result of all the player movement.

“The timing of it is huge,” Candrea said. “I mean, I don’t mind a kid at the end of the year (transferring) if things aren’t right and they’re not getting enough playing time. And there are situations where it makes sense for kids, but in the middle of the year and in the middle of the fall is just devastating for any program because you don’t have a chance to recuperate.

“I believe if you’re going to transfer at mid-semester, maybe you ought to pay your own way, maybe you need to sit out, but there’s really right now no penalty for that. And to me, it’s a little bit like free agency. You can kind of do what you want to do, look for where you think the grass is greener ... You don’t ever want to see a kid leave your program, but I know there’s been some times it makes sense, but I think the timing of it is crazy. And maybe they might look at that. Who knows? The next step may be coaches being able to put a kid on the portal and shop them around.”