'It was a very hard decision.' UND's Rebraca reflects on entering transfer portal to pursue academic dreams
As the transfer portal becomes more popular among college athletes this year, UND's Filip Rebraca says this is the best option for him in order of pursuing his MBA.
GRAND FORKS-- It's a term becoming popular this year in college sports, student athletes entering the transfer portal. More than 1,000 athletes nation-wide, across all levels, are deciding to look for another school. Athletes also don't have to sit out an extra year either before playing at their new program.
UND men's basketball is experiencing the emotions of the transfer portal first hand. Four players from the 2021 roster have already entered their names into the portal, including three starters. For junior Filip Rebraca though, the transfer portal is the best option to fulfill his academic dreams as well.
“I don’t think people fully understand that these are some things that we as international students have to go through,” said Rebraca.
There is a new sense of freedom for college athletes this year, Rebraca is no exception.
“It was a very hard decision,” said Rebraca.
Last month, UND’s leading scorer announced that he would not be playing his final season of college basketball in Grand Forks. Instead of stepping away from the game all together though, Rebraca is opening the door to other college basketball programs nationwide. His choice to leave UND did not come easy.
“So I had to basically choose between choosing an education that I maybe don’t like the most and staying here and playing, or going to get the masters education that I really desired somewhere else,” said Rebraca.
Rebraca, who is from Serbia, is pursuing a graduate degree in business and administration. But international students at UND have to attend at least one in person class or one hybrid class. With the pandemic, that option is now no longer available for students like Rebraca.
“That’s where the issue was. So as an international student as I am, during Covid and I forgot when this happened, but I remembered all of last year, even the fall and the spring semesters and going forward, all international students have to take at least one in person class or at least one hybrid class. So with that rule being in place, that’s when I found out midseason about this, UND’s MBA program was going fully online. So I could not attend the MBA as an international student. So I had to look at other options that UND had to provide and I just did not find anything that suited me well enough. So that is why I decided to transfer,” said Rebraca.
After having zero offers for college basketball out of high school, UND took a chance on the 6’9 center, Rebaca says he wishes it didn’t have to come to this point now.
“There are no problems (at North Dakota). I truly believe that Coach Sather is one of the best coaches I have played for and more importantly, I think he is a really good human being. Kind of unfortunate, I really wanted to bring a championship here and want not and it’s unfortunate that I wasn't able to, but I really tried everything I could to give back to this program and university. that extra year didn’t really impact my decision on leaving. But that extra year could actually help me pay off my whole master's degree, I am quite fortunate for that,” said Rebraca.
Even though his chapter as a Fighting Hawk didn’t end as he desired, it’s now opening his options for his next story.
“Coming in even out of prep school, I had zero division one, division two, or division three offers. So I decided when North Dakota gave me the chance, they put a lot of trust in me and I really try to repay everything that they gave me,” said Rebraca.
Not every athlete's situation is as unique as Rebraca’s, but he says the transfer portal may be becoming the new norm in college sports.
“I wouldn’t consider this as a problem with four guys leaving. I know it seems very scary to everyone, but this is the new age of college basketball is about. The players want to feel more in power and I guess we really are with this many options that we can go everywhere,” said Rebaca.
WDAY Sports reached out to UND about the number of transfers, they declined to comment. Tyre Ihenaco, Seybian Simms, and Nate Shockey have entered the transfer portal for North Dakota.
Rebraca added that Arizona, Utah State, Northeastern, and Loyola-Marymount are just a handful of the schools that are showing interest in him.