Tracking Transfer in Division I Men’s Basketball

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 as well, and may be most visible in Division I men’s basketball (MBB).  Since 2015, NCAA Research has been tracking the destinations of Division I men’s basketball transfers and uncovered some interesting findings:

  • The rate of transfer between four-year colleges in Division I MBB is high relative to most other sports, but not the highest (see tables in full report).
  • The number of 4-4 transfers on Division I MBB squads has increased in each of the past two years (blue line in Figure 1).  This is coupled with a relatively stable percent of two-year college transfers in MBB (red line).
  • That said, NCAA Research has found that 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? Transfers were identified by merging the 2019 Division I Basketball Transfers list from the Verbal Commits website with all Division I men’s basketball student-athletes listed in the 2018-19 Transfer Portal. 694 of the players on the list were identified as transferring to another school and joining the basketball team. 54% of the transfers went to another Division I school (often to a less competitive program), while the others typically left for Division II, NAIA or 2-year colleges (Figure 2).

Generally, over 80% of all MBB transfers say they leave for athletic reasons. Absent proper academic planning, many of these SAs lose credits upon transfer and register lower Academic Progress Rates (APRs) and graduation rates at their new schools than seen among non-transfers.

Trend in the Proportion of Men's Basketball Transfers in Division I APR Cohorts
Transfer Destination of Division I Men's Basketball Players

PowerPoint describing methods and data in more detail.

Download a PDF copy of this Extra Point: Tracking Transfer in Division I Men’s Basketball

(Published July 2020)

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NCAA Student-Athlete COVID-19 Well-being Study

The NCAA Student-Athlete COVID-19 Well-being Study was designed to examine the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on student-athletes’ current physical and mental well-being. The survey was designed by NCAA Research in collaboration with the NCAA Sport Science Institute and the three national SAAC governing bodies. Over 37,000 student-athletes responded to the survey, spanning the three divisions, all sports and athletics conferences. Key findings include:

  • A majority of participants reported experiencing high rates of mental distress since the outset of the pandemic. Over a third reported experiencing sleep difficulties, more than a quarter reported feeling sadness and a sense of loss, and 1 in 12 reported feeling so depressed it has been difficult to function, “constantly” or “most every day.”
  • While 80% reported knowing how to access a medical provider for physical health needs, 60% of men and 55% of women reported that they know how to access mental health support in their current location.
  • 4 in 5 athletes surveyed indicated that both local regulations and a lack of access to appropriate facilities were barriers to athletics training. Other emotional barriers included a fear of exposure to COVID-19 (43%), lack of motivation (40%), feelings of stress or anxiety (21%), and sadness or depression (13%).
  • Over 70% of participants indicated feeling positive about their ability to pass their courses this semester and over half (51%) indicated feeling positive about their ability to keep up with classes this semester.
  • Nearly 90% of student-athletes surveyed reported communicating with teammates multiple times per week and 56% reported communicating with coaches multiple times a week. Generally, the more frequently participants communicated with teammates and athletics staff, the more likely they were to report feeling positive about such communication.
  • Participants indicated they would generally look to coaches as their primary source for information related to training, physical well-being, mental health and social connections during this time. Many reported they would look to their athletics department in terms of academic support, career planning and financial assistance resources. The resource most requested from the NCAA was information about the fall semester and return to play.

Student-Athlete Well-Being Scale

As sport psychology and mental health professionals are becoming members of athletic department medical teams, it is important to consider efficient and effective ways to screen student-athletes for psychological distress and monitor the resulting progress for those who receive psychological services. The purpose of this project is to create a culturally and developmentally appropriate measure for college student-athletes that has the capacity to serve as both a screening and treatment outcome measure. The project consisted of three phases that included student-athlete and athletic staff input on content domains, follow-up feedback on the resulting measure, and an initial psychometric evaluation.

Social Media Literacy for Student-Athletes

There is currently no standardized social media training program available for college student-athletes. Social media training is important because consequences of posting unsuitable content may include loss of reputation, eligibility, scholarships, and future career prospects. The purpose of this project was to develop and test an online social media literacy program that emphasizes showcasing one’s unique strengths, assessing message credibility for active online citizenship, enriching sport performance, and managing cyberbullying. Based on recommendations from recent research, the program was designed to cultivate responsible social media attitudes and use.

Using Peer Podcasts to Develop and Strengthen Resilience in Student-Athletes

Athletes face challenges when transitioning into the rigor of college academics and athletics, as well as injuries, redshirting, deselection, the evolving athlete identity and moving beyond sports. An innovative program using podcasts addressed these issues. Interviews with current and former student-athletes relayed their challenges but focused on their resilience and how a growth mindset evolved due to the struggles and challenges brought forth by college athletics. Insights regarding both challenges and strengths are the foundation of the peer podcasts: Athletes Interrupted: Developing and Strengthening Resilience in Student-Athletes (DSR). Podcasts were created and recorded on-campus by students and faculty. A blueprint to guide NCAA member institutions on how to create, produce and utilize resilience-building podcasts for student-athletes is available.

Career Readiness Challenge

The ability for student-athletes to translate competencies learned through athletic participation into real-world applications outside of the athletics context is as a high-impact practice. However, athletic and academic responsibilities may limit the student-athlete’s ability to engage in traditional career service activities. The objective of this project was to develop the “Career Readiness Challenge” (CRC); a career development program that utilizes game mechanics and a blended instructional platform to increase motivation and enhance attitudes towards career planning. The research provides insight into how perceptions of career readiness competencies and attitudes toward career planning relate to the students’ athletic experiences and their identity.

Finances of Intercollegiate Athletics Database

Academic outcomes for Division I postgraduate student-athletes

As progress-toward-degree standards have increased in Division I, more student-athletes are completing their undergraduate degree with athletics eligibility remaining.

The Development and Evaluation of a Web-Based Program Empowering NCAA Coaches to Effectively Communicate with Student-Athletes of Concern and Make Mental Health Referrals: A Pilot Study

This project sought to address the issue of psychological well-being among student-athletes by training coaches to recognize mental health concerns and make early referrals. Coaches completed six web-based modules on the broad topics of (1) rapport building, (2) help-seeking behaviors, and (3) the referral process. Content built upon material presented online via the NCAA Sport Science Institute. Evaluation procedures included pre- and post-training questionnaires measuring coaches’ knowledge of and ability to apply module content. Additionally, post-training focus groups were conducted. Potential implications are the adoption of content into coaching education, and its dissemination to other NCAA institutions.


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