Freshmen Play on the Way Out in the NCAA

by Fred Pahlke | Posted on Wednesday, February 18th, 2015




Changes are on the horizon for NCAA schools and the eligibility of their student/athletes.  College basketball especially, and a carry over to the other sports quite possibly, rule modifications are going to change the landscape of the college games and have impact on the NBA in particular.

Commissioners of three of the five power conferences, the Big 12, the Pac-12, and the ACC are in the process to have the NCAA to make freshmen ineligible for varsity action. 1972 was the last season that the frosh were eligible to play on freshmen teams only.



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“I’ve had conversations with several commissioners about [freshman ineligibility],” Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said. “We are pushing, and I think you will see much more serious conversations about it in the coming months and year.”

The item was No. 7 on a 10-point list for NCAA reform ideas that Pac-12 college heads sent their Power Five colleagues last May.

7. Address the “one and done” phenomenon in men’s basketball. If the National Basketball Association and its Players Association are unable to agree on raising the age limit for players, consider restoring the freshman ineligibility rule in men’s basketball.


Bob Bowlsby, Commissioner of the Big 12 commented there is “almost a uniform acknowledgment that there’s kids in college that don’t have any interest in an education and don’t have the proper education to take advantage of an education.” He also commented that freshman ineligibility would have a “profoundly positive effect” on football and men’s basketball by giving students time to transition from high school to college without the distractions of big time college competition.

“I think there’s a growing interest in a robust debate, and I think we ought to drag it to the ground and consider it any way we can,” Bowlsby concluded. “I think it is the one change that could make an absolutely dramatic difference in college athletics.”



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“I don’t think it’s looked upon as radical an idea as it seemed to people five years or 10 years ago because it makes so much sense educationally,” said ACC leader John Swofford. “We’re in a period now where everybody is trying to get a hold of the student-athlete experience and a recommitment, if you will, to balance academics and athletics.”



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The one-and-done situation in college basketball is the main target but other sports might be included. Others are also proposing alternative ways to cut down the loss of talent to the pros, much of it wasted with the bad decisions made by athletes as they pursue a professional career.

A change to freshmen ineligible would be a positive with those players signing college letters-of-intent required to sign enforceable contracts with said schools for a three year time period, giving the school exclusive rights for that students services in that particular sport. For those student athletes that want to forgo college and go straight into a professional league, they would have that opportunity as granted by the pay for play leagues (NBA, NFL Euro Leagues). The NCAA needs to wash their hands of the NBA and get committed athletes in their programs which would do away with the one year teams such as what is happening at Kansas and Kentucky, for example. Give the athlete a five year scholarship and allow the player to play as a 5th year senior. The quality of the college game would improve and allow the fans to bond with their schools’ players. Increase basketball team rosters to 18 scholarship players and encourage walk-ons for freshmen teams, with no more than six freshmen allowed to sign in any given year, with redshirting numbers caped at two.

Changes are in the works and they will happen. The five power conferences run their own programs currently with little regard to other divisions in the NCAA. Additional rule changes, such as a 24 second clock, freshmen teams, and stipends (already in the works for 2015-16) will follow.

About the Author

Oklahoma native has viewed over 10,000 sporting events in his 61 years. A season ticket holder of the Oklahoma City Thunder and expert in both professional and college basketball and football. A graduate of Oklahoma City University. Elementary School Principal in the Oklahoma City Public Schools for 31 years.

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