You can solve much of what’s horrible about transfer portal with two words: Developmental Fee

I haven’t put much thought into this but hear me out anyway

Last season, the most transformative basketball player for Arkansas State in modern history left for Miami after publicly reaffirming his commitment to the Red Wolves only a week previously. Norchad Omier’s defection was a deathblow to the program, which was built around his offensive and defensive capabilities – developed for two years by the Red Wolves’ coaching staff.

Two years of one-on-one basketball training! Two years of personally helping Omier, a native of Central America, acclimate to a life in the United States! Two years of promoting his extraordinary abilities! Two years of elevating his game and his profile!

Today, Norchad Omier is successfully averaging a double-double for the Hurricane, having been ready-made for starting duty thanks to substantial investment from Arkansas State. How was A-State compensated? With a middle finger that won’t even buy you a head of lettuce.

Norchad Omier was developed from a player with raw skills to a top tier starter

To be real, I have no ill will towards Omier. He was merely leveraging a broken and messed up system to his maximum benefit. But the entire drama underscored a glaring weakness in both the NIL and transfer portal systems – one that threatens to make free farm teams out of programs unable to muster massive NIL super-pacs.

The solution might be simple: impose a developmental fee on schools that poach players from other programs.

That sounds good, right? Two years of development should be compensated. What potentially kills the concept is how such a policy is implemented. Consider the case of Emoni Bates, he No. 1 player in the 2022 class and rostered at Memphis before transferring earlier this year to Eastern Michigan. Comparing the two programs, Eastern Michigan has made four appearances in the NCAA Tournament with no Final Four appearances. Memphis has made 26 NCAA Tournament appearances and have played in the Final Four three times. Memphis is, by far, the more accomplished program.

How does Omier’s transfer to Miami compare to Bates’ departure to Eastern Michigan? For starters, Bates was far from the centerpiece of the Tigers’ program (he averaged 9.7 points and 3.3 rebounds as a freshman). In contrast, Omier delivered the lion’s share of production on both sides of the ball. His value to the Red Wolves was greater than Bates’ value to Memphis.

So do you tier developmental fees? If so, based on what? Program impact? Years of service? Size of program? Depth of NIL money? The last is intriguing. What if each program was made to register how much NIL was available to programs each season? From that pool, the size of developmental fees can be carved.

Let us imagine that Norchad Omier had suiters from both Miami and, I dunno, Toledo. Let us pretend that Miami was delivering a $50,000 NIL package and Toledo was offering $500. Now the benefit is clear to Omier – Miami clearly has the bigger package. However, if the developmental fee assessed to Miami is 900 times greater than the fee assed to Toledo, then at least Miami pays a fair fee to access to an impact player while Toledo receives the discount. In theory, that would discourage Miami from making a habit of gutting smaller programs while providing compensation to programs it would have otherwise taken advantage of.

But what if after a year of slamming dunks in Miami, Norchad Omier decides to transfer back to Arkansas State? Would not Miami be owed a year of development? Again, one would like at Arkansas State’s reported NIL pool and assess that fee accordingly. If A-State can pay the fee, it has rights to court the services of Norchad Omier.

Of course, all of this is stupid, but we live in a stupid world.