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Former Tigers talk about transfer portal changes

By Michael Crouchley

The Journal

SENECA — One of the biggest talking points in college athletics is without a doubt the NCAA transfer portal. The transfer portal has changed the landscape of college athletics, allowing players to freely switch schools with very few hassles or consequences.

Former Clemson basketball star Harold Jamison talks to members of the media at Cross Creek Plantation in Seneca on June 7. (Jerry Beard | The Journal)

When several former Clemson basketball and football greats were back in the Upstate last week for a fundraiser golf tournament at Cross Creek Plantation in Seneca, many shared their thoughts on the transfer portal and its effect on college sports.

For the most part, they agree that changes need to be made.

“I think it can be great, but it’s totally changed the game,” said Harold Jamison, a star forward for Clemson on the hardwood from 1995-99. “I don’t want to use the word ‘ruined,’ but I don’t think it does a lot of good.

“I think it ruins it in the sense that the kids don’t really have anything to play for. If a little thing goes wrong, or if they don’t like a particular situation, then boom, they’re into the transfer portal. There’s not a whole lot of loyalty in programs. I don’t particularly like it, but I do see where it can be helpful to some.”

Like every other school, the transfer portal has had a serious effect on Clemson.

In just this offseason, the Clemson men’s basketball team has seen Lynn Kidd, John Newman, Olivier-Maxence Prosper and Clyde Trapp transfer away from the program. Clemson has dipped into the transfer portal itself, bringing in David Collins and Naz Bohannon during the offseason.

Current Coastal Carolina men’s basketball head coach Cliff Ellis, who led the Tigers from 1984-94, said the transfer portal has changed the game a lot since his time at Clemson.

“You don’t have a choice but to adapt,” he said. “The transfer portal is the biggest thing right now, there’s no doubt about it, but it’s not the first time the game has changed. Do I like the rule? No, I’m not in favor of it, but you have to adapt and live with it.

“What I think it takes away is discipline. Someone can lace up their shoes and say, ‘I’m out of here.’ They don’t even need to tell the coach. Now I feel like I’m a general manager — I feel like I’m in the free-agency market. I’m going to lose some guys and get some guys back. That’s how it is, but I never cry over spilled milk — it is what it is. I don’t make the rules, but I have to go with them.”

The Clemson football team has also seen the transfer portal impact the program this offseason. Since the end of last season, the Tigers have seen defensive tackles Nyles Pinckney and Jordan Williams, linebacker Mike Jones, cornerback LeAnthony Williams and running back Chez Mellusi leave the program via the transfer portal. Cornerback Derion Kendrick also transferred to Georgia after he was let go from the team on Feb. 28. The Tigers are set to take on the Bulldogs on Sept. 4 in Charlotte, N.C., to kick off the season.

Still, head coach Dabo Swinney has remained firm in his stance against bringing players in from the portal, saying during spring practice in February that when replacing players, “I’m going to the locker room, not the portal.”

“We’ve got a great roster that I really am excited about, and it’s our job as coaches to develop them,” Swinney said. “If we have some need or some big gap that is a result of this portal world that’s out there, then we’ll respond accordingly. We’re always going to do what we need to do to give ourselves a chance to be successful — always have and always will.”

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