On Wednesday, the NCAA got it right. After tabling a proposed change to the current redshirt rule in April, the powers that be at the governing body of the NCAA re-visited the suggestion this week at the Division I Council meeting in Indianapolis, electing to pass a provision that would allow football players to participate in up to four games without losing a season of eligibility.
This change still allows athletes five years to complete four seasons, but allows for a grace period for injuries, unforeseen circumstances, or, in some cases, allows coaches to get a read on young players in specific circumstances without it costing them an entire season of competition.
In a press release provided by the NCAA, council chair Blake James, the AD at Miami said:
“This change promotes not only fairness for college athletes, but also their health and well-being. Redshirt football student-athletes are more likely to remain engaged with the team, and starters will be less likely to feel pressure to play through injuries,” James said. “Coaches will appreciate the additional flexibility and ability to give younger players an opportunity to participate in limited competition.”
Ultimately, the committee did right by the athletes in a multitude of ways, but where we may see the biggest impact is with true freshmen. TCU could have used that exemption a season ago, when Shawn Robinson won the backup QB job out of camp, but started just one game and played sparingly in six others. Were he to have been able to be the backup and used when needed, but maintain his four years of eligibility, that could have huge, wide-ranging implications going forward. This situation could be repeated with Justin Rogers this season; the January enrollee may not be 100% recovered from an injury suffered his senior year of high school come week one, but could get his feet wet later in the season as he prepares to compete for the starting job in 2019.
One initial concern raised by the involved parties was mid-year enrollees participating in bowl games - which was mitigated by the Council ruling that these players were not eligible to utilize the exemption. The committee will use football as a test subject before seeing how it may be applied to other sports in the coming years.
Additionally, the NCAA adopted a rule that prevents coaches from blocking transfer requests, as student-athletes are no longer required to seek their coaches’ permission to contact other schools. Let’s let the powers that be explain it:
The Division I Council adopted a proposal this week that creates a new “notification-of-transfer” model. This new system allows a student to inform his or her current school of a desire to transfer, then requires that school to enter the student’s name into a national transfer database within two business days. Once the student-athlete’s name is in the database, other coaches are free to contact that individual.
The previous transfer rule, which required student-athletes to get permission from their current school to contact another school before they can receive a scholarship after transfer, was intended to discourage coaches from recruiting student-athletes from other Division I schools. The rule change ends the controversial practice in which some coaches or administrators would prevent students from having contact with specific schools. Conferences, however, still can make rules that are more restrictive than the national rule.
Additionally, the proposal adds tampering with a current student-athlete at another school to the list of potential Level 2 violations, considered a significant breach of conduct.
This rule goes into effect on October 15th of this year, and while conference can make their own, stricter rules, it levels the playing field for players who were previously forced to comply with ridiculous rules that allowed coaches to block them from pretty much any school that they were interested in for pretty much any reason imaginable.
While I don’t expect this to open up TRANSFER SZN in college football, there will certainly be an adjustment period as programs adopt the changes. Ultimately, it’s better for the student-athletes, and thus, a step in the right direction.