Keeping up with the transfer portal

Senior transfer Tyson King played football at Northern Michigan University. Photo by Dylan Lux / The Jambar

By Cameron Niemi / The Jambar

The NCAA transfer portal gives student-athletes an opportunity to move on to another university and consider their options. This includes Division I, II and III schools across the country.

Since the NCAA approved student-athletes profiting off their name, image and likeness in 2021, the transfer portal has seen an abundance of athletes entering the portal and transferring.

Youngstown State University and thousands of other universities have felt the effects of the portal, both positively and negatively.

Ron Strollo, executive director of Intercollegiate Athletics, stated YSU has both gained new athletes and lost others who have transferred to other schools. He also stated he believes the portal rules should change.

“The portal has had a significant impact in both students transferring in and out of YSU,” Strollo stated. “I believe there should be a limit to how many times a student can transfer.”

Melissa Jackson, newly hired head coach for the women’s basketball team, has already used the portal for searching and recruiting.

Former player at Cleveland State University Faith Burch has signed with YSU basketball from the portal. Transferring from the University of Akron. Dacia Lewandowski is also joining YSU from the portal.

Anthony Romo, a senior telecommunications sports broadcasting major, has served as the play-by-play broadcaster for YSU women’s basketball, softball and volleyball for the past two years. Throughout his time at Youngstown State, he’s seen several players come in and out through the portal.

Romo said he believes coach Jackson’s previous winning pedigree at Akron and Cleveland State will bring in new players to the team.

“Players are also going to be able to see the other aspects of YSU, like our great fan turnout. Our home crowd is one of the best home atmospheres in the Horizon League on the women’s side,” Romo said. “There’s a lot of different factors, but I think coach Jackson will be able to recruit well, and it seems like she’s doing a great job thus far.”

Fifth-year transfer Dena Jarrells was previously a guard at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Photo by Dylan Lux / The Jambar

The YSU men’s basketball team lost five graduating players. The team also lost two key players from the 2023-2024 season to the portal: fifth-year senior DJ Burns, who finished fourth in all of the NCAA in double doubles with 22; and sophomore John Lovelace Jr., who came off the bench and averaged 6.6 points and 2.8 rebounds.

First-year head coach Ethan Faulkner has been busy with recruits on campus, giving tours over the past few weeks.

Faulkner picked up his first athlete from the portal April 23 — graduate transfer guard Nico Galette from Sacred Heart University. Galette averaged 13.5 points last season and 7.3 rebounds.

Romo said he believes Faulkner will have no problem bringing in players for the 2024-2025 season.

“He has seen what it takes to make your school marketable for these transfers to try to come in, and I know Youngstown State has a great staff behind the scenes,” Romo said. “It’ll be interesting to see as well if coach Faulkner wants to go back to more of a high school recruiting aspect side of things, or if he wants to attack the portal like coach [Jerrod] Calhoun did and try to build these new rosters year after year.”

Senior tranfer DJ Burns was previously enrolled at Muray State University. Photo by Dylan Lux / The Jambar

The Youngstown State football team lost several defensive players after the 2023 season to the portal, but the program has been very active bringing in transfers, including a few players from the University of Cincinnati, where head coach Doug Phillips worked from 2017 to 2019.

More than five players have decided to enter the portal and leave YSU since the Red vs. White Spring Game on April 12.

However, the team has brought back defensive back Isaiah Hackett, who is transferring in from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Hackett was a graduate from Youngstown East High School. Another transfer, Mason Ludwig, is coming in from the University of Toledo.

Over the past few years, many players have left Youngstown State to go to bigger universities. Romo said the transfer portal has helped YSU but has also hurt the school in a way.

“Youngstown State has created a good platform to get these girls or boys to a different level,” Romo said. “It’s unfortunate when you see these players leave, but you kind of expect it with the day and age we have with the NIL and the transfer portal.”