Whether it’s a good idea would be debated vigorously if the proposal reaches the NCAA football rules committee, the first step in creating legislation. It has been kicked around for a while now; Big Ten Conference Commissioner Jim Delany said he first remembers hearing of it 20 years ago, and Gophers coach Glen Mason thinks it was even longer ago. “There are much more people for it than against it,” Mason said of his fellow coaches. “I’m not against it; I just haven’t thought it all through yet.”
With a maximum of only 85 players allowed on scholarship in a season, and the NCAA’s new 12-game schedule, many teams find themselves going deep into their bench late in a season when injuries pile up. With fewer scholarships and more games, “We definitely continue to sail uncharted waters,” Mason told the Pioneer Press.
The deadline for proposing legislation for the NCAA’s January convention is in mid-July; that’s an unlikely timetable. But the AFCA, with help from the NCAA, is getting ready to survey member schools on the issue. NCAA spokesman Erik Christianson said that includes “helping to design the survey instrument and helping to analyze the data.” The rule must be officially proposed by a conference.
Minnesota athletics director Joel Maturi said one must keep in mind that many in college athletics believe the NCAA should go back to making all freshmen ineligible for competition, as the situation was before the early 1970s. That change led to the limit on football scholarships.
Mason said he falls into the camp that would prefer all freshmen are ineligible because it’s a tough transition for students, and most aren’t ready to play anyway. That said, in the current climate, he said a fifth year of eligibility isn’t a bad idea.