College football players will be allowed to participate in up to four games in a season while maintaining their redshirt status starting this fall, according to a rule passed by the NCAA Division I Council on Wednesday.
The old rule was meant to discourage other schools from tampering with student-athletes.
Schools have drawn criticism for preventing a student-athlete from transferring to a program that better suits them, either academically or in their chosen sport. Once the name is in the database, other coaches can contact that student. "Coaches will appreciate the additional flexibility and ability to give younger players an opportunity to participate in limited competition". The new rule will go into effect during the upcoming, 2018-19 season. The rule will put an end to a debatable practice wherein a DI coach would prevent an athlete wishing to transfer from contacting specific schools (usually rival schools).
The NCAA has made several attempts in recent years to change transfer rules, but this is the first to come up with something substantive - if not comprehensive.
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"The membership showed today that it supports this significant change in transfer rules", said Justin Sell in a release, the chair of the Division I Transfer Working Group and South Dakota State AD. While those discussions continue, that rule has yet to be changed. "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", Miami AD Blake James said.
Nicholas Clark, a former Coastal Carolina football player and member of the Division I transfer group, offered up these comments on the new rule.
Even with the new rule, conferences could still restrict athletes from transferring within the league. "This will clean the process up and give more influence and flexibility to the student-athlete".
The Division I Student-Athlete Experience Committee will look at how a similar ruling could apply to other sports and what number of games should be considered. As you can guess, coaches have been pushing for this for a while now and this is a pretty big victory for them and for players, who will all be able to see action on the field as freshman and not have it take a year away from them. Currently, a student's notification of intent to transfer at the end of a term is not one of the listed reasons a school can use to cancel aid. "The new exception allows football players to preserve a season of competition if, for example, injuries or other factors result in them competing in a small number of games".