Football coaches applaud new redshirt rule
NCAA is allowing players to compete in four games
CHARLOTTESVILLE — Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall has been an outspoken proponent of the NCAA changing its redshirt rules to allow younger players the chance to get some limited game experience without losing a full year of eligibility.
So count Mendenhall among the scores of college coaches praising the NCAA’s new redshirt policy.
“I think this new rule will be a great opportunity for a student-athlete and their overall college experience,” Mendenhall said in a statement provided by a spokesman. “It provides them the chance to participate in our sport throughout their entire college careers, which could lead to better engagement, better graduation rates and hopefully more individuals getting the opportunity to earn a masters degree.”
The NCAA’s Division I council announced the new rule Wednesday, one that permits players to compete in up to four games and still be able to consider that a redshirt season.
Previously, players who competed in any games lost a full year of eligibility unless they suffered an injury. Now, freshmen can see some playing time on special teams or in a bowl game and not burn a year of their college career.
The new rule goes into effect for the upcoming season.
“I applaud the NCAA for this rule change,” Virginia Tech football coach Justin Fuente said Wednesday, in a statement released by the school. “It’s a positive for our student-athletes to be afforded the opportunity to get some limited game experience without penalizing them. I’m all for the change. Particularly when it gets late in the season and teams are dealing with attrition, it makes a lot of sense. We’ll obviously study the rule and the implications in more detail, but in my opinion, it’s good for studentathletes and good for our game.”
The change in policy also is a major win for coaches at the FCS level (63 scholarships), especially at private schools that don’t draw many walk-ons and commonly have depth issues as coaches have tried to redshirt as many true freshmen as possible.
When the NCAA was considering the matter, University of Richmond coach Russ Huesman said a redshirt rule modification would be “unbelievable, especially at our level, with our numbers.”
The proposal was submitted into the 2017-18 NCAA legislative cycle by the ACC.
According to the ACC’s proposal: “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.”
The NCAA’s Division I council also announced a change in the way transfers will work. Studentathletes no longer will be required to seek permission — or a release — from their current school to transfer to a specific program, eliminating the ability of programs to block players from certain schools.
Starting in October, an athlete who wants to transfer just needs to notify his current school, which would then place him in a national database of available transfers.
In recent years, a number of high-profile cases became public as a coach and school attempted to block an athlete from transferring to a rival program or to a program in the same conference.
“This creates a safe place for student-athletes to have a conversation with their coaches and makes the whole process more transparent,” said Nicholas Clark, a recent Coastal Carolina graduate and the student representative to the council. “This will clean the process up and give more influence and flexibility to the student-athlete.”