Skip to main content

Nate Oats addresses transfer portal, NIL issues in college athletics: 'It's not the worst thing'

On3 imageby:Sam Gillenwater06/28/24


College athletics have undergone a complete transformation just over the course of the 2020s. Still, while there remains plenty to continue to fix, Alabama’s Nate Oats doesn’t think any of it is so bad so long as you adapt to what comes.

Oats talked about all the developments at the collegiate level during a conversation this week with Mark Gottfried. While he too understands just how much everything has changed just in his time in Tuscaloosa, he has no issue with it because, in the end, they’re always going to come in some form or another somewhere in the future.

“I mean none of it was here in five years ago when I started,” said Oats. “I mean the whole industry has changed since I’ve gotten to Alabama. Look, a lot of people complain about it. Here’s my thing – change is inevitable. You better figure out how to deal with it. I don’t think it’s that bad to be honest with you.”

To start, Oats went with NIL. That was the one topic where he admitted that more work is necessary, including in the political realm, so that name, image, and likeness isn’t so confusing.

“The NIL thing and the paying the players, who’s going to pay? They need to get it figured out because it’s a little bit disjointed,” Oats shared. “Like, somebody – and it’s probably going to take Congress getting involved to actually get it all completely figured out. Somebody needs to figure that out.”

However, as for the transfer portal, Oats sees it as a positive for both players and programs. With it being a common practice now, he thinks teams should use it to their advantage by creating more roster spots or covering up their mistakes in recruiting.

“With the transfer deal? Look, everybody can complain all they want. It’s here, it’s not changing, it’s not going back,” Oats began. “It’s not the worst thing. Before, if you recruited a kid in, you were kind of stuck with them for four years, whether it was a great fit or not. They could transfer down or whatever, sit a year if it got bad enough. But it was so rare that I’m sure you almost felt bad if you kind of tried to run a kid off. Now, if the kid is not going to play much? Win-win. We need a spot freed up. He goes somewhere where he’s going to play and we can recruit somebody in that’s going to fit a little better.

“Nobody is 100% in recruiting. They’re not 100% in the NBA and they’ve got staffs of 20-30 people trying to figure out who to draft. So you’re going to make some mistakes,” Oats continued. “You can quickly, you know, kind of remedy yourself from it. You can put together a roster like you want every year.”

To Oats, the one ‘problem’ with it is every player’s ability to move in any transfer window during the year. Still, if staffs do right by their players, it should be no matter for them to retain their guys while also having a reputation on the portal market as a place that players can come to, and leave from if they so choose, with ease.

“All 13 are open. The good thing is we’ve got kids that are in our building every day that we want back here. Like, we can recruit them right now. Now, that doesn’t mean that I’m not going to coach them hard because, if I actually care about their future, there’s some tough love that has to happen. But we oughta be building the relationships anyways,” Oats explained. “If we want the kids that we currently have on our roster, even if we don’t think that they’re going to stay? You still treat them right and then you just help them get to the next spot the correct way.

“I think it’s harder for coaches that don’t treat their kids well now because they can’t keep them. Word gets out. So it has just got some added good pressure, if you will. Like, do the right thing. Treat your kids well,” Oats added. “If you treat them well and they’re getting better? You know, most of the time, they don’t want to leave if they’re good enough to play for you. If word gets out that you’re going to get better and you’re going to be treated the way you should be treated? Like, it’s a little easier to recruit kids to come to you out of the transfer portal.”

Alabama has been able to make the most of this new era. As of last year, that fact resulted in a 25-12 record along with their debut appearance in the Final Four. That improvement, their coaching, and the program’s ability to adjust to today are all why the Crimson Tide have become a destination for players.

“Shoot – you look at our roster right now, what we were able to do with the transfer portal? It helped going to a Final Four. But I think the style of play that we play with, the way our kids get treated here? I think we’ve adapted pretty well,” said Oats.

“Whatever rules they continue to change, you figure out what they are and you go with it.”