NCAA gives football players more chances to play under new rule

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Penn State cornerback John Reid was an injury redshirt for a year but returned to be a starter.

NCAA football players will have more flexibility in terms of playing time in a rule passed by the Division I Council that will take effect in the 2018 season. In addition, the NCAA approved a change in the transfer rule for all sports that will give student-athletes more flexibility.

Division I athletes have five years to compete in up to four seasons of competition. The new exception allows football players to play up to four games in a season without using a year of eligibility.

According to Michelle Brutlag Hosick, the Associate Director of Public and Media Relations for the NCAA, the old rule, and the continuing rule for other sports, is that any participation during a season used a season of competition. Waivers were available, and still are for other sports.

So if a football player participated in a few games and then suffered an injury, he could apply for a waiver to earn a redshirt season. What this rule will do is keep players engaged all season, with the incentive to play up to four games and not have to burn a redshirt year.

If a player shows improvement during a planned redshirt year, he could play in the final four games and help a team down the stretch.

Council chairman Blake James, athletic director at Miami, said the rule change benefits student-athletes and coaches alike.

“This change promotes not only fairness for college athletes, but also their health and well-being. 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,” James said in a statement released by the NCAA. “Coaches will appreciate the additional flexibility and ability to give younger players an opportunity to participate in limited competition.”

The Division I Council also adopted a proposal this week that creates a new “notification-of-transfer” model. This new system allows a student to inform his or her current school of a desire to transfer, then requires that school to enter the student’s name into a national transfer database within two business days. Once the student-athlete’s name is in the database, other coaches are free to contact that individual.

The previous transfer rule required student-athletes to get permission from their current schools to contact another school before they could receive a scholarship after transfer. This new rule ends the practice in which coaches or administrators would prevent students from having contact with specific schools.

The NCAA says that conferences, however, can still make rules that are more restrictive than the national rule. For instance, a conference could limit the ability to transfer within the same conference.