National data indicate that many of today’s college graduates transfer at some point on their way to a degree. This is true among student-athletes (SAs) as well, and may be most visible in Division I men’s basketball (MBB). Tracking movement from school-to-school for research purposes can be difficult, but recent NCAA studies have done just that and uncovered some interesting findings:
• The rate of transfer between 4-year colleges in Division I MBB is high relative to most other sports, but not the highest (M/W tennis).
• The number of 4-4 transfers on Division I MBB squads may be up slightly over the past decade (blue line in Figure 1). This is coupled with a decrease in 2-year college transfers in MBB (red line).
• That said, about 40% of all MBB players who enter Division I directly out of high school depart their initial school by the end of their sophomore year.
Where do these transfers end up? We tracked the 455 MBB student-athletes listed on ESPN’s 2013 Division I transfer list to determine where they are enrolled in 2013-14. Only 44% transferred to another Division I school (most of those to a less competitive program where playing time might be more available), while many ended up at Division II, Division III, NAIA or 2-year colleges (Figure 2). Fully 16% on the transfer list were not on a college roster as of fall 2013.
Close to 90% of MBB transfers say they left for athletic reasons. Absent proper academic planning for transfer, many of these SAs subsequently lose credits in the transition and register lower Academic Progress Rates (APRs) and graduation rates at their new schools than seen among non-transfers.
Download a PDF of this Extra Point: Tracking Transfer in Division I Basketball
(Published November 2013)