Beware of poaching

Harms outweigh benefits in transfer portal for small universities


Photo by: Madison Sharrock

Head coach Tim Beck sporting a “chants up” in his new office overlooking the teal field in Brooks Stadium.

After working with Power Five schools for the last 12 years, head football coach Tim Beck was drawn to Coastal Carolina University because he saw its potential.

Beck learned about the University when his daughter came to play volleyball for Coastal’s team, and said it reminded him of where he went to college at the University of Central Florida.

“That’s where I saw this and I envision this as a gem, as a goldmine,” Beck said. “I just kind of waited patiently for that.”

He said location and community are the two main attributes that bring in student athletes. Additionally, Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics and University Recreation Matt Hogue said Coastal’s coaches and a chance for good competition in the Sun Belt Conference is what attracts them. Beck agreed and mentioned the difficulty of competing against universities such as Marshall, James Madison, and Old Dominion.

As students choose to come to continue their intercollegiate careers in South Carolina, both from out-of-state and instate, they have the option of Power Five schools over CCU. Beck said their money may put these universities on the map but Coastal’s style of play and strength is “as good as anybody’s.”

“I just, I think sometimes you’re comparing you know, steak and hamburger,” Beck said comparing CCU to other schools in the state. “They’re both good. They’re just different, right?”

Beck said the transfer portal can do more harm than good because Power Five schools are able to take more chances and risks. If one crucial player enters the portal to explore offers, a bigger university can take advantage of that.

“The hard part about the portal is you know, it’s just it’s been abused by schools,” he said. “There’s a lot of poaching.”

Hogue said in most cases, portal decisions boil down to the amount of play time offered, rather than scholarship offers.

“We see a lot more athletes now who may be in their first or second year and they haven’t reached that playing time threshold yet. So, they go ahead and leave,” Hogue said.

Hogue continued to say the bigger the roster of a university, the more potential there is for a greater turnover. However, he agreed that the transfer portal can be harmful in many ways. Going into the portal does not always guarantee the student athlete a place to land or could potentially end up in a worse situation.

“The big takeaway, I think, that is important for student athletes to understand across the country is there are more athletes going into the portal than seats at the table,” he said.

Student athletes like Coastal’s quarterback Grayson McCall find themselves on the opposite side of the transfer portal where there is a demand for their skill set. McCall said he entered the portal in December 2022 to see what options were available for him.

McCall said while he was in the portal, he received offers from SEC, Big 10, ACC, and Group of Five schools. But, he said it wasn’t the right decision to leave because Coastal is home to him.

“Coming here was the best decision of my life,” McCall said. “I got one more year so I’m enjoying every day making sure I don’t take it take it for granted, and just soaking it all in.”

In addition to CCU’s resources, Hogue said the $15 million indoor practice facility will be an investment in student athletes. The architectural programming committee consisting of board members and athletic leaders have been meeting for the past four to five months, and they are at the stage of planning and drawing up the design.

Now, the next step for the facility is to get approval from the state. Hogue said it would be premature to set a date for its completion but hopes for it to be done close to the 2024 football season.

“It’s as much of a need like parking spaces,” Beck said regarding the importance of the indoor facility. “People don’t realize how big of an impact something like that makes for student athletes.”