A new standard of academic eligibility is coming to college football. Starting in 2016, any freshman who does not come out of high school with a 2.3 grade point average, based on 16 core courses, will be forced by the NCAA to take a redshirt.
The story was discovered by Pete Roussel of CoachingSearch.com, who was curious about the term "academic redshirt" when he saw it on this graphic tweeted by North Carolina quarterbacks coach Keith Heckendorf:
Roussel followed up to learn more and eventually found this document from the NCAA, which outlines the changes for 2016.
Academic Redshirt: A college-bound student-athlete may receive athletics aid (scholarship) in the first year of enrollment and may practice in the first regular academic term (semester or quarter) but may NOT compete in the first year of enrollment. After the first term is complete, the college-bound student-athlete must be academically successful at his/her college or university to continue to practice for the rest of the year.
This rule will apply to students who enroll in a university on or after August 1, 2016. The students must still meet the NCAA's minimum 2.0 GPA, and the sliding scale with SAT and ACT scores is still in effect—even though some in the industry, like North Florida assistant basketball coach Lee Moon, consider that system a joke:
Still, this is a smart move by the NCAA, which is trying to highlight the "student" in student-athlete for obvious reasons. Northwestern football players have been deemed employees of their university by the National Labor Relations Board and granted the right to unionize, blurring the lines of amateurism in college sports.
This new rule will help remind people that the NCAA does, in fact, care about the education of its players. If a student is struggling academically and with the transition from high school to college, the last thing he needs is to worry about his performance on game day.
Starting in 2016, he can remain on and practice with the team (so as not to fall behind in pursuit of his dream), but also stay out of the spotlight as he works to maintain a stronger academic performance.
Does the system remain imperfect? Sure. But for now, this seems like a pretty fair deal.