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The NCAA freshman ineligibility crusade is totally reasonable and fair

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First-year college football and basketball players should focus more on academics? OK. Let's apply that rule to everybody else too.

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany
Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

The ACC, Big 12, and Pac-12 have been kicking around the idea of reviving the ban on first-year players competing in, specifically, college football and men's basketball. Sure, most pre-1972 rules about broad groups of people being barred from select activities would work great in modern settings. The Big Ten is also reportedly interested in the conversation.

No, this has nothing to do with Kentucky basketball being favored to win its second title in four years thanks to mastering the art of one-and-dones. The fact that the four conferences most interested in the idea are the power conferences Kentucky isn't a part of? Happenstance. The fact that these four conferences also annually trail the fifth in freshmen who are ready to play college football is another coincidence.

But leaving conferences aside, since the SEC could join in, the fact that the two sports in question also happen to be the big revenue generators means nothing.

You say keeping stars around longer might mean more people watch big games, assuming those stars don't go straight to developmental leagues instead? The NCAA knows people just watch college sports to look at stadiums anyway. And sure, the NCAA gets sued all the time for treating, specifically, football and basketball as billion-dollar businesses, but they're both part of normal academic experiences like all other sports, except they're the only two sports that need freshman ineligibility. Where were we?

A better idea for players

First-year college athletes shouldn't be allowed to play college football or basketball. This is so they can focus on academics. Athletes in all other sports already focus fine.

Great idea. Let's focus even more on academics!

  • First-year coaches shouldn't be allowed to recruit. This is so they can focus on their current players and help them focus on their academics. Once coaches prove capable of helping college players focus on academics, they can slowly begin to also help high schoolers focus on high school academics.
  • First-year athletic directors shouldn't be allowed to have anything to do with football or men's basketball. This is because, as we all know, football and men's basketball are bad for academics, while all other sports are fine. Brady Hoke's job as Michigan head coach should be restored, due to this rule.
  • First-year school presidents shouldn't be allowed to gain notoriety, admissions, prestige, or revenue from football and men's basketball, in order to focus on academics. The only way to accomplish that is to halt the programs any time a school changes leadership at the top. We're making omelettes.
  • First-year conference commissioners should have all football and men's basketball television revenue deals put on hold, in order to focus on academics. They can still accept money from ESPN, CBS, and FOX for bowling, water polo, and rifle, though.