Football coaches ap­plaud new red­shirt rule

NCAA is al­low­ing play­ers to com­pete in four games

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - SPORTS2 - BY MIKE BAR­BER mbar­ber@times­dis­patch.com @RTD_MikeBar­ber Staff writer John O’Connor con­trib­uted to this re­port.

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.”

Men­den­hall

Fuente

Hues­man

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