Dabo Swinney Sounds Off On The Transfer Portal, Says Players Are Being Manipulated

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We have seen what the new NIL rules have done to change college football over the past few months, but it’s the transfer portal that is causing the most headaches for coaches like Dabo Swinney. On Monday, Lane Kiffin went off, calling the portal a “free agency” market, and now we’ve got the Clemson head coach chiming in with his thoughts.

During his National Signing Day gathering, Dabo made a point of saying that the transfer portal is damaging to the sport and to student-athletes.

“It’s crazy. It’s really sad, to be honest with you,” Swinney said. “There’s right around 2,000 kids in the portal and most of them don’t have anywhere to go. There’s so much tampering going on and so many adults manipulating young people. It’s sad, but you know, it it what it is from that standpoint. You’ve got a lot of young people that … there’s a time and a place, but most of the kids are in there when they shouldn’t be in there.

“Some are and some shouldn’t. Some of the lessons we’re teaching young people I don’t think is going to benefit them well as they move through their life. It is something everybody has to manage and deal with. There’s no consequences. There’s no rules. I’m all for transferring. I personally think we should let them go whenever they want. I just think they should sit a year and then you get that year back upon graduation. What we’ve done is decentivize and de-value education and I think that’s the wrong approach.”

Dabo also discussed that mental health will continue to be a problem for college athletes and that a slew of athletes won’t graduate college because of this new transfer rule. He seems to be implying that, with so many in the portal, athletes won’t have a place to finish school.

“We’re going to have a lot of young people that aren’t going to graduate,” Swinney said. “Mental health is one of the biggest issues in college. There’s a lot of kids whose identity is wrapped up in football, and all this does is further that. When they get to these other places and they think the grass is greener and they realize the mirror traveled with them, I think a lot of kids are going to suffer. I think graduation rates are going to go down and it’ll be interesting to see where that is five years from now, 10 years from now.”

This “tampering” around college football is something that has stuck out to Swinney, who says kids are being manipulated into signing somewhere based on what agents and people representing companies are throwing at them. He also mentioned that an education is the last thing on the minds of some programs now.

“It’s total chaos right now, tampering galore. Kids being manipulated. Grass is greener and all that stuff as opposed to putting the work in and graduating. There’s no consequences. So now you’ve got agents and NIL, tampering, and you have no consequences. No consequences equals no conscience. There’s no reason for pause, no barrier for young people … like, nothing. Education is like the last thing now.”

It’s safe to say that Dabo Swinney and other college coaches are fed up with the system that a good chunk of them were in favor of initially. We’ll see how this plays out over the next year, but I expect some changes to the rules.

Written by Trey Wallace

Wallace started covering the SEC in 2012, as the conference landscape was beginning to change. Prior to his time in Knoxville, Wallace worked in Nashville for The Read Optional, where he first produced content that garnered national attention. His passion for sports is evident in his work and has led him to break some of college football’s biggest stories. His social media reach and natural podcast proficiency continue to make Wallace one of SEC’s most trusted sources.

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