Coaches worry tampering, inducements, 24/7 free agency have turned transfer portal into Wild West

There are no transfer portal issues for Lew Nichols III. The nation’s leading rusher is staying put.

“I love it here,” said Central Michigan’s rising redshirt junior. “I’m just kind of a quiet, laid-back guy.”

Mount Pleasant, Michigan, might be the perfect place for the Detroit native after he rushed for 1,848 yards last season. That hasn’t kept several larger schools from trying to convince Nichols to enter the transfer portal.

Every school in the SEC, among others, wants Nichols, one source told CBS Sports. Others confirmed there’s been heavy interest in the Chippewas star rusher.

“I don’t think it is [exaggerated],” said a person close to the Central Michigan program.

The reaction to Nichols’ breakout season is somehow less of a story than the standout running back staying put. That’s how fluid the portal has become.

Power Five programs poaching Group of Five schools for talent is nothing new, but the practice has been accelerated in the age of the portal.

The portal debuted in October 2018 eliminating the arcane — and possibly illegal — requirement that schools or coaches “release” players from their scholarships. Then, beginning in April 2021, the NCAA began allowing all athletes to transfer once in their career without restriction. That did away with the decades-old “year in residence” that required athletes to sit out a year before competing at a new school.

Three months later, on July 1, the name, image and likeness era began. All of it combined to create a transfer environment on steroids.

If tampering — the practice of coaches attempting to woo outside players to their program — was a problem before, it’s a chronic ethical issue now.

There is also an emerging culture where NIL compensation deals for…


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