Four power conferences are looking into the idea of freshman ineligibility for football and men's basketball. The Big Ten claims 80 percent of academic violations come from the two sports, and that freshmen athletes in those two sports could use a year to focus solely on academics.
The merits of such proposals are debatable, but one thing seems clear: it should wait at least a few years, until the new freshman academic eligibility standards taking effect for the 2016 freshmen can be evaluated.
What new academic requirements, you ask? The ones passed by the NCAA in 2012 and aimed at the riskiest players.
They would practically eliminate the option for athletes to complete large swaths of core classes via online coursework in the summer months before entering. They increase the minimum GPA and SAT requirements for competition eligibility by about 15 percent each.
Players who don't meet those would be subject to an academic redshirt year, which sounds an awful lot like what the overbroad proposal from the conference commissioners suggests.
From the NCAA's release at the time:
The new initial-eligibility requirements create a higher academic standard for freshman to play. That standard is higher than what will be needed to receive aid and practice, creating an academic redshirt year.
Student-athletes who achieve the current minimum initial-eligibility standard will continue to be eligible for athletically related financial aid during the first year of enrollment and practice during the first regular academic term of enrollment. Student-athletes could earn practice during the second term of enrollment by passing nine semester or eight quarter hours.
For immediate access to competition, prospective student-athletes must achieve at least a 2.3 GPA and an increased sliding scale. For example, an SAT score of 1,000 requires a 2.5 high school core-course GPA for competition and a 2.0 high school core-course GPA for aid and practice.
Why enact a new policy before the impact of the policy that takes effect 18 months from now can be measured?