College football’s redshirt rule underwent a significant makeover Wednesday as the NCAA announced that players can participate in up to four games and still retain an extra year of eligibility.
It’s a proposal for which Kentucky coach Mark Stoops had advocated, and now it’s official.
“There’s no question it would help the team and it helps the young man,” Stoops said in a statement. “It would help keep the individual engaged throughout the season if there is a chance to play.
“Last year is a great example, when we suspended our punter for one game. I was trying to redshirt a punter and ultimately decided to keep the redshirt on him and punt somebody else. It worked out, but to take the redshirt off would have penalized the young man. That’s a situation when this rule would have helped. I think it’s a win-win for all concerned.”
The suspended punter was Matt Panton. Stoops opted to use backup kicker Miles Butler as his punter in the Vanderbilt game rather than burn the redshirt of second-team punter Grant McKinniss.
According to the new rule, McKinniss could’ve preserved his eligibility as long as he didn’t play in more than four games. Players still have five years to complete four seasons of eligibility, but now they won’t have to be sidelined for an entire season.
“This change promotes not only fairness for college athletes, but also their health and well-being,” said Blake James, NCAA council chair and athletics director at Miami. “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.
“Coaches will appreciate the additional flexibility and ability to give younger players an opportunity to participate in limited competition.”
The redshirt rule was one of two changes announced Wednesday by the NCAA.
The council also adopted a proposal that will allow student-athletes to transfer and receive a scholarship without asking their school for permission. Under the previous rule, a coach or administrator could prevent a player from having contact with a certain school.
“I don’t think that will be much of a change from what we’re dealing with now,” Stoops said. “With special circumstances, you always have to give that waiver anyway. If a young man has to transfer for certain reasons, for family issues and things like that, ultimately most of us are going to grant that release.”