The NCAA has tabled a proposal that would allow players to compete in up to four games and preserve their redshirt status. The Division I Council met in Indianapolis this week and tabled the proposal, with a vote possibly coming in June.
“Our coaches are obviously extremely hopeful,” AFCA executive director Todd Berry told AL.com. “It’s something we’ve been working for for quite some time.”
Update: The NCAA has confirmed that the proposal is officially tabled.
The Council tabled a proposal that would allow football student-athletes to participate in up to four games per year without using a season of competition. Proponents argue that late-season injuries and other factors often require student-athletes who hadn’t played all season to burn a year of eligibility for a small number of games. Others wonder whether the proposal could be applied to other sports, as well, whether the number of games in the proposal is appropriate, and whether the timing of the four games matters.
This rule has been a pet cause of Berry’s. Here’s what I wrote following Berry’s State of the Profession press conference at the AFCA Convention in January:
– The AFCA really, really wants to see the redshirt rule changed. Coaches would like to see players be allowed to play in up to four games and still take a redshirt. Berry said this vote has been unanimous across all levels two years in a row, which never happens. “This needs to pass and it needs to pass right now,” Berry said.
Echoed Miami AD Blake James in January:
“I don’t think it’s right for a young man to lose a redshirt over what may be a need for a team, in a competitive situation, to have to find a player to play.”
Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby voiced concerns over the rule, however:
“I think it’s got a lot of merit. but there are some hooks in it. I don’t know how comfortable people are with, suddenly in the last three games and a bowl game, you go from being a guy who’s on the scout team to (a prominent role).”
A resistance to the rule has arisen over the spring over the concern that players could sign with a program in the new December signing period, immediately play for their new teams in a bowl game, and then compete as a true freshman the following season. Berry says a the rule has since been amended to close that loophole.
Here is how the proposal reads, via AL.com:
“The current rule often places coaches in a difficult position to decide whether to play a student-athlete in a limited amount of competition or to preserve the student-athlete’s season of eligibility. The opportunity to play in a small number of games will ease this decision for coaches and help the student-athlete’s development and transition to the college game. Additional flexibility with substitutes may allow starters and more experienced student-athletes additional rest and/or to feel less pressure to play through injuries. The opportunity to play will help student-athletes who might otherwise ‘redshirt’ to remain engaged with the team and may reduce the number of transfers that occur annually in football.
“Another potential benefit of this legislation is the opportunity for younger student-athletes to participate in bowl games, which are often as much about preparing for the following season as completing the current season.”
The NCAA will now turn the proposal over to the Football Oversight and Student-Athlete Experience committees for discussion and feedback.
Additionally, the NCAA announced that the FCS has removed restrictions that barred schools from hiring IAWPs from working camps or support staff members from working camps — either their school’s or others’ — as the Division I Council ruled that such practices are not recruiting issues in FCS as they are in FBS.
Both divisions have banned former athletes from participating in practices at their alma maters, as had become a popular trend at a certain Tuscaloosa-based FBS school in recent years.