NCAA eases up on Division I football redshirt restrictions

NCAA President Mark Emmert speaks during a news conference at the Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament Thursday

NCAA President Mark Emmert speaks during a news conference at the Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament Thursday

The college athletics governing body has approved a new rule that allows players to play in up to four games in a season while maintaining their redshirt status.

Previously, only players who did not play a snap in a season or were sidelined by injury before playing in more than four games were generally granted redshirts by the NCAA. Then, other coaches are free to contact the player. Last season, this opportunity may have led to redshirts like quarterback Tommy DeVito and cornerback Ifeatu Meliufonwu seeing playing time as they prepared to step into larger roles.

To address one specific concern, the Council specified that midyear enrollees can not use the exception to play a bowl game before their first academic term.

American Football Coaches Association executive director Todd Berry lobbied for the redshirt rule change for years and reiterated it had "unanimous" support from the coaches.

College athletes will no longer need permission from their coach or school to transfer and receive financial aid from another school.

Under the new rule, athletes would be permitted to be contacted when they notify their current coaches, who have two days to enter the names into a database created and managed by the NCAA that will alert schools who can be recruited. Conferences, however, can still put rules in play that forbid student-athletes from transferring within the conference without sitting out a year or some other stipulation.


Nicholas Clark, a former football player at Coastal Carolina and a member of a student representative on the council, said the change promotes fairness and the well-being of college athletes.

Under previous NCAA rules, programs could deny student-athletes permission to seek transfers to schools for any reason, no matter how inconsequential.

"Redshirt football student-athletes are more likely to remain engaged with the team, and starters will be less likely to feel pressured to play through the injuries".

As of now, this rule does not apply to sports other than college football, but the Division I Student-Athlete Experience Committee is examining "how a similar concept could be applied to other sports, including what number of games would be appropriate", according to the NCAA's release.

In an attempt to prevent schools from tampering with student-athletes already enrolled at another institution, the NCAA has made tampering a Level 2 violation. More often than not, it limited players from speaking to other schools in the same conference or on future schedules.

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