Christian Laettner calls to 'wipe out' NIL, change transfer portal

On3 imageby:Andrew Graham03/28/24


Former Duke men’s basketball star Christian Laettner made clear he is not a fan of the current NIL-and-transfer-portal-fueled paradigm of player movement in college sports during an interview with ESPN’s Mike Greenberg. The former Blue Devil and college hoops icon called for major rollbacks to the current system.

Laettner called for a “wipe out” of NIL and a reigning in of the transfer portal. And while those action items are unlikely to happen — and are probably nonstarters, legally, for the NCAA right now — his ire echoes what countless coaches have said about the new age of open compensation and player movement.

The former four-year star at Duke also questioned the value of bouncing from team to team for players.

“They gotta take out the NIL. They gotta wipe that out,” Laettner said. “They gotta change the transfer portal. I know everyone’s saying the horse is out of the barn and you can’t take stuff back. But how can you establish any type of culture at a school when you’re getting new kids every year? That would mean every year was like my freshman year at Duke. And you’re so much better your third, your fourth year when you’re under one system, one program, one coach, one specifically defined culture. The way you want to play offense. The way you want to play defense.”

Laettner also pointed to the apparent connection between the rise of NIL and the transfer portal causing high-profile coaches to leave the profession.

He specifically pointed to former Villanova men’s basketball coach Jay Wright and recently retired Alabama football coach Nick Saban as examples of the damage done to the sport by the adoption of NIL and the transfer portal.

As Laettner explained, neither of those national championship-winning coaches should’ve felt the pressure to leave from these changes and the fact they did is problematic.

“I don’t know how the coaches do it in today’s game and that’s why some of the better ones are starting to quit,” Laettner said. “The coach at Villanova, he quit — he never should’ve quit. Nick Saban thinking about quitting, or he already quit. It’s so bad to see some of these great, great coaches stop coaching and it’s because of the NIL. It’s because of the transfer portal. I think I saw something with Nick Saban where he said the first thing a kid says to him, a recruit says to him is ‘How much money are you going to give me?’ It’s just horrible.”