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Brown Says Building Relationships Key to Limit Transfers



Neal Brown with WVU Football team

The transfer rule and the transfer portal continues to be a hot topic of discussion across the NCAA.

The effects have been felt in the locker rooms of both the Mountaineers football and basketball teams in its respective offseasons, but the WVU coaches and staff are ready to put that behind them and focus on the future.

Football head Coach Neal Brown is set to take on his first full offseason at the helm of the Mountaineers time he hopes to spend building relationships with not only current players but incoming players and prospects as well.

“I think what you try to do is just build relationships,” Brown said at his end of season press conference. “It is not a West Virginia issue, it is not even a division I football issue, it’s just kind of the world we live in, and everybody’s circumstances are different.”

Brown said the hardest part about the transfer portal is managing a roster.

“I think the best way you can go about preventing those is building relationships,” Brown explained. He added the playing time piece of those decisions to enter the portal “is what it is” and has been the case for a long time.

This offseason, Brown said he believes the imbalances of the system – including more players in the portal than spots on team – will be a point of discussion.

“I think for the first year or so of the portal the data was not great because you couldn’t tell who were scholarship players in the portal and weren’t. I think they clarified some of that,” Brown said.

According to the Associated Press, the overall requests across all sports increased to more than 250 in 2018-19 from more than 150 the previous year.

During the Big 12 media days prior to the 2019 football season, Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bolwsby spoke regarding the transfer portal, which he said the Big 12 continues to follow-up on. WVU Athletic Director Shane Lyons also serves at the Division I Chair of the Oversight Committee.

“Interestingly enough there are kids going to the portal and leaving with a scholarship and finding difficulty in getting another scholarship at another institution,” Bowlsby said. “There are many walk-ons in the portal that are going from a non-scholarship environment trying to find a scholarship and you certainly can’t blame them for that.”

According to transfer portal rules, in football, a school can take up to 25 initial counters each academic year as long as it doesn’t go over the 85-scholarship maximum.

“What people don’t think about is the student athletes, their parents, who ever is kind of assisting them in their decision making if you take some one out of the portal, that is one of your 25,” Brown explained. “So every transfer you take, that’s a high school or junior college prospect that you couldn’t take and I don’t think that always factors in. You would love to take a kid that is a short-term solution for your program but if they don’t fit in that 25 you have to make a decision whether it is a short-term or long-term decision and those are sometimes difficult.”

With these rules, Brown said he and his staff are focusing more on the walk on program.

“That is one reason why we are putting a huge emphasis on kind of rebuilding our walk on program with the point that we have to do a better job on developing our walk-ons because really the only way you can in this day in age to get to your 85 under the current rules is by putting walk-ons … on scholarship, that is really the only way to et to your 85.”

Prior to this season, Brown said he sees his team being a mix of transfers and high school athletes for the future.

“We’re always going to try to build our team through the high school football recruiting. I think that’s how you build your foundation,” Brown said. “I think it’s important to have guys in your program for four and five years, but we’re also going to be creative in how we build our roster. If you look at what we’ve done over the summer you’ll see that.”

Brown added they will be “creative” and it will be a year-long approach to building a roster.

“We will take transfers, that’s something, whether you’re at West Virginia or any of the other nine teams in this league everybody has done that and we will continue to do that but we’re going to build our program through high school football players,” he explained.

Basketball head coach Bob Huggins also has expressed his frustration with not only the transfer portal but athletes leaving early for the NBA. He has said everyone is so concerned about individual rights that they forget about everybody else.

“It’s like the draft. I am totally 100% against what we are doing to the draft … because you can’t replace them. What happens to the rest of the team?” Huggins said. “It doesn’t matter what happens to them, well it does. It matters that they may have lost maybe their best player and they can’t replace them.”

Huggins said NCAA basketball is seeing issues with the new transfer portal rules leaving athletes stuck in “limbo.”

“But you know what, that only effects them. They chose that,” he said. “I could live with that more than I could live with destroying a team. I could live with that. And they do have a place to go, they could be Division II.”

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