Switching Schools: Examining the Networks, Antecedents, and On-Court Outcomes of NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Transfers

N. David Pifer – Texas Tech University
Matt R. Huml – University of Cincinnati
Akira Asada – Texas Tech University

Prior research has indicated that athletic concerns remain at the forefront of Division I athletes’ enrollment and transfer decisions, yet the athletic circumstances and outcomes surrounding these transfers remain under-analyzed in the broader empirical literature. As such, this study applied a social network analysis and accompanying hypothesis tests to a dataset containing approximately 1,200 Division I men’s basketball transfers in order to identify trends in the market and examine whether transfers have benefited players and teams on the court. The results depict a market characterized by low density and low reciprocity as schools were involved in an average of just 0.7 transfers per season from 2012-13 to 2016-17. However, transfers occurred more frequently during coaching changes, between non-Power Five programs, and between schools in the same state. In terms of performance and opportunity changes, transfer players averaged significantly more games, minutes, usage rates, and win shares in the seasons following a transfer. They also averaged more win shares and win shares per 40 minutes than freshmen of the same position.