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Is Poaching As Out Of Hand As Some People Are Saying?

Pressure is building to reform the reform.

Dayton Flyers v Virginia Commonwealth Rams
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MARCH 12:DaRon Holmes II #15 of the Dayton Flyers and Jalen DeLoach #4 of the Virginia Commonwealth Rams pursue the loose ball in the second half during the A10 Basketball Tournament Championship game at Barclays Center on March 12, 2023 in New York City.
Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

The transfer portal has really changed things quite dramatically. If you’re really lucky, like Duke or UNC, you might pick up a Brady Manek or a Theo John, guys who became integral parts of their respective teams.

That’s on the top end, of course.

The reality is that many players, having developed at smaller schools, are simply moving up to bigger schools and conferences.

And those schools, having invested time identifying, recruiting and teaching those players, are really not happy about it.

Not at all. And it’s hard to blame them.

In this article from the Dayton newspaper, Dayton AD Neil Sullivan talks about the poaching that’s going on, saying this: “It’s outrageous and out of control. That’s the best way I can say it. I guess I’ll be really blunt about it. There are very few NIL rules and regulations, but to the NCAA’s credit — if there is much credit to give — there are a couple clear rules that are written in what I call fifth-grade plain English. One of those is that recruiting conversations between boosters, collectives and prospects are just not allowed. Coaches can’t coordinate to have a kid in the portal talk to a collective. It’s just flat not allowed.”

In the beginning of the article, author David Jablonksi says this: “Fans of the Dayton Flyers have seen Duke fans talking on Twitter and on Internet message boards about the potential of UD star DaRon Holmes II transferring to their school this spring, even though Holmes has not entered the transfer portal or talked about his future plans. Holmes, who has two seasons of eligibility remaining, has until April 23 to decide if he wants to declare for the NBA Draft.”

Is Sullivan suggesting that Duke Basketball is attempting to steer on-line conversations to help poach players?

It’s not clear if he is or maybe Jablonksi is, but it’s really not necessary. First Duke, like Kentucky, is at the top of the NIL food chain and would have plenty of choices. Second, the Blue Devils, unlike a number of schools lately, are focused primarily on high school talent. This may change, but the only player on next year’s team that didn’t start at Duke is Ryan Young, who transferred in from Northwestern. And third, fans are doing it all on their own and it’s not just Duke fans either. You can log on to Twitter nearly any day and see fans telling someone to come to their school.

All that said, and Sullivan is not wrong - poaching is happening. Nor is he the only one to protest the Wild West aspect of the transfer portal.

In recent days, coaches like Michigan State’s Tom Izzo and Iowa’s Fran McCaffery have said that the NCAA has really mishandled the new transfer situation and needs to figure it out. And Mike Krzyzewski chimed in too, saying that waiting for Congress to fix it is pretty stupid, perhaps because Congress at this point is incapable of fixing much of anything.