Kelvin Sampson Says If You Want To Slow Down NIL And Transfer Portal, 'Make Kids Sit Out A Year'

We are now at a time and place in the college athletics world where coaches are taking a hard stance on whether they favor NIL or feel as if it's bad for the game. For Houston basketball coach Kelvin Sampson, he feels there is no way of slowing things down at the moment, but did share an idea of how to tamper it down.

We have witnessed players entering the transfer portal at an alarming rate over the past year and with NIL becoming such a key figure in some of their recruitments, coaches are starting to voice their displeasure. It's played out before our eyes on social media or the stories that you hear of bidding wars for high-profile players. It looks familiar to coaches that see this turning into free agency in college sports, which Kelvin Sampson pointed out this week when speaking with reporters .

"Most people that make these decisions unfortunately are not athletically inclined to read the unintended consequences. For instance, the transfer portal, as soon as they gave un-emcumbered freedom to guys to transfer and be eligible right away and you couple that with the NIL, now you do have free agency. 

“You know if you want to slow NIL down, make kids sit out a year," Sampson said. "A lot of them are transferring because of money. That’s not what it was intended to do. It’s a mess, it really is a mess.”

It's not just the players transferring between power-five programs either. We're starting to see teams find players from any division of college basketball, which Kelvin Sampson has a problem with. The relationships that are built for most of these coaches take a hit when someone poaches a player that was given an opportunity that major schools didn't think they deserve. But after a stellar season at a smaller school, Sampson has noticed that coaches are trying to poach any player that can contribute to their teams, no matter the cost.

“I think about these kids at these smaller colleges, low-majors, mid-majors, freshman have a great year, some school needs a point guard and somebody gets ahold of his AAU coach saying here’s what we want to pay him. So he transfers from that coach, that coach recruited him, built a relationship with him, developed him, now somebody called him and offered him $20,000 a month, he’s gone. What are we doing? Who’s idea was that?"

But what is the NCAA going to do right now to stop them? Until they can magically figure out how to put a genie back into a bottle, the NIL game will stay the same. This is not the fault of the coaches or schools involved, but it's the hand they are currently being dealt and must deal with if they are going to survive in the Wild Wild West. It's not as if some of these coaches like being a part of this new era in college athletics, it's that they don't have any other choice, especially if their opponents are taking full advantage of the rules.

For Kelvin Sampson, none of this is sitting well with him, which I imagine is difficult for some of the old-school coaches in college basketball.

"So now how do you stop them? You don’t. That’s like un-ringing a bell. That bell is rung, now you’re trying to throw a lasso around a caboose, good luck with that. So, it is what it is. I feel bad for the game. There’s a greediness about this thing that doesn’t sit well with me."

Looking at the future of the sport, changes might be coming in the future, but it's not as if they can just flip a switch and erase the last ten months. The NCAA knew what they were doing when they first put out the vague guidelines for NIL, so let's not act like it can be rebuilt in a short period of time.

But for Sampson and the Houston basketball program, there is one thing that they are not willing to do and that is participate in the ongoing games of the transfer portal and NIL.

“We’re not gonna spend money trying to get kids here, we’re gonna take care of the kids we do have. That’s far more important to me."

We'll see how long that lasts.

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Trey Wallace is the host of The Trey Wallace Podcast that focuses on a mixture of sports, culture, entertainment along with his perspective on everything from College Football to the College World Series. Wallace has been covering college sports for 15 years, starting off while attending the University of South Alabama. He’s broken some of the biggest college stories including the Florida football “Credit Card Scandal” along with the firing of Jim McElwin and Kevin Sumlin. Wallace also broke one of the biggest stories in college football in 2020 around the NCAA investigation into recruiting violations against Tennessee football head coach Jeremy Pruitt. Wallace also appears on radio across seven different states breaking down that latest news in college sports.