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Transfer portal has impacted more than just football

STATE COLLEGE – For something that’s been in existence for only 15 months, the NCAA Transfer Portal has created more than its share of headlines.

While most of the biggest news has been generated by Division 1 football players transferring, Division 1 wrestling, specifically Penn State, has been impacted, as well.

In the last week alone, the Nittany Lions lost a starter (Brody Teske) to the portal and gained two additions to their roster — Adam Busiello and Greg Kerkvliet.

Whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing, Penn State coach Cael Sanderson wouldn’t say Tuesday in the Lorenzo Wrestling Complex.

“It just is what it is. It’s part of college athletics and it doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere,” he said. “We’re trying to figure out how it works and stay on top of it.”

In fact, Sanderson said, checking the portal has become a daily task.

“We check the transfer portal every day. That’s Jake Varner’s job. He checks the transfer portal every day. That’s not his only job,” Sanderson said, eliciting peals of laughter from the assembled media. “That’s not his only responsibility. That’s just part of college wrestling right now.”

Sanderson said Busiello, who transferred from Arizona State, is eligible to wrestle right away since he was released from his letter of intent but “that’s not the plan.”

Kerkvliet, who many ranked as the No. 1 overall recruit in the Class of 2019, has taken a much more circuitous path to Happy Valley.

The Simley, Minnesota, native verbally committed to Minnesota in the fall of 2016. He switched his commitment to Oklahoma State in November 2017. Then, in July 2018 he reopened his recruitment and eventually signed with Ohio State in November 2018. On Nov. 1, 2019, he entered the transfer portal while enrolled at Ohio State. He was seen working out in the Penn State wrestling room in fall of 2019 and then on Dec. 5 he announced on Instagram he had transferred to Penn State.

Because he transferred within the Big Ten, he isn’t yet eligible to compete officially for the Nittany Lions.

“Greg hasn’t been released from the Big Ten,” Sanderson said. “Worst-case scenario would be next January, but we’re going to try to get him to where he could compete right away in November next year, but that’s something that has to be approved through a committee and a process.”

Making exceptions

for TV

Penn State’s next dual meet — Sunday in Rec Hall vs. Rutgers — comes with an unusual start time of 5 p.m. It’s also unique in that it will be aired nationally on ESPN2.

Sanderson, who openly admits that his brother and associate head coach Cody Sanderson handles most of the scheduling duties, said he’s willing to make accommodations for television.

“I try not to ask or to complain. We’ve had some 9 o’clock matches and those are a little bit of a challenge sometimes. But if it’s good for the sport and you’re putting the match live on TV, then we try to make those accommodations,” he said.

“I think this was probably to make for a better TV time clearly. Those kinds of things don’t matter to me a whole lot. Whenever the matches or wherever it is, we just want to be at our best.”

March is Most Important

Shakur Rasheed made his season debut in the Nittany Lions’ wins over Illinois and Northwestern over the weekend, but he looked a bit timid in splitting decisions.

Sanderson said he wasn’t bothered by Rasheed’s loss against the Wildcats.

“There’s different things in play, but I don’t think him losing a match was bad for him. You saw him wrestle the night before, he was tight and he’s just got to get his mind right. Last year he had an injury, but he didn’t lose a whole lot of matches going into the nationals,” he said.

“I’d rather he lose some matches and kind of get your mind right and make those adjustments now than later, so it’s fine. You know I don’t really get too worked up or worried. It’s more about the process and just trying to get better and getting your mind where it needs to be.”

He went on to say that the goal is always to peak for the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments.

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