Understanding the NCAA transfer portal and its impact on high school recruits

Editor’s Note (June 27, 2023): This article was submitted by our partner, ScoutingZone, in an ongoing series of best practices for college recruiting.

The NCAA transfer portal has become a one-stop shop for college student athletes to find a new home and for college coaches to find talent seeking out new opportunities. It is defined as a compliance system to create a more efficient transfer process for collegiate student-athletes. It’s designed to increase efficiency, as well as transparency, so student-athletes can express their aspirations to college programs who are looking to add on talent. The transfer portal became more widely utilized after a rule change that became official in September 2022. This allowed all student-athletes who are transferring for the first time and who are in good academic standing from their current school to have immediate transfer eligibility when they arrive at their new campus. Before this, all student athletes who transferred were required to sit out a full season before getting the opportunity to compete in their new program.

There are a number of reasons that student athletes may decide to transfer colleges. The most typical reason we have seen is for a student athlete to find somewhere that will lead to a better opportunity for more playing time. Other student athletes have cited moving closer to home, a head coach moving on to a new program or even receiving better opportunities to earn money through NIL partnerships.

The first step for every student athlete when they decide to enter the portal is to communicate with a compliance officer at their current school. That student athlete must then be submitted to the online database of players looking to transfer within 48 hours of that request. The notification of transfer windows is dictated by the sports season you compete in. Once your name has been added to the portal, that gives programs from other schools the opportunity to start communicating with student athletes directly.

NCAA Division I college soccer transfer portal window

  • Women’s soccer: November 7, 2023 – December 21, 2023
  • Men’s soccer: November 14, 2023 – December 29, 2023

Is this taking sports away from high school recruits? 

  • When the totality of available college soccer roster spots is taken into account, transfer portal kids are NOT taking away from incoming freshmen or junior college transfers.
  • The portal is essentially just players swapping spots.
  • There are not less spots available because of the portal. If anything, we feel it helps to open up spots compared to years’ past when players just “stuck it out.”
  • REMEMBER: Stick to your game plan. Don’t get distracted. Continue to be proactive in communicating with your top college list.


A National Association member of the U.S. Soccer Federation, US Club Soccer fosters the growth and development of soccer clubs in order to create the best possible environment for players of all ages.

Anchored by Players First and its five pillars of Club Development, Coaching Development, Player Development, Parent Engagement & Education and Player Health & Safety, US Club Soccer offers registration, league- and cup-based competition platforms, player identification and a variety of other programming, resources and services.

US Club Soccer is sponsored by Nike, DICK'S Sporting Goods and Gatorade.

usclubsoccer.org | Facebook | X | Instagram | YouTube |