The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Monday December 5th

Officials eye mandatory redshirt

The discussion hinges on the academic preparedness of incoming athletes.

The freshman, who is a linebacker on UNC’s football team, is a voluntary redshirt this year.

“I know that as a redshirt freshman, I had a lot more time on my hands, so I was able to study and stuff like that and was able to see what it will be like when I’m playing next year,” he said.

Petty said the policy could end up being helpful for freshmen trying to balance athletics and academics.

“I like people being able to have choices, but if it were mandatory, I don’t think it would be all too bad,” Petty said. “It’s a big adjustment coming from high school to college.”

The Big Ten Conference is currently looking to other NCAA conferences to begin a national discussion about mandating this “year of readiness” for all freshmen athletes, making them initially ineligible to play.

Though nothing’s been put to a vote, it’s not unprecedented for freshmen athletes to be forced to wait to play. Before 1972, football and basketball players were ineligible to play during their first year in college.

UNC Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham said the discussion aims to keep the best interests of college athletes in mind.

“A number of conferences are talking about the best things we can do to enhance the educational experience of students who participate in a sport,” Cunningham said. “I think the real purpose of the (policy idea) is to foster dialogue about how we deliver a quality educational experience to students in today’s environment.”

Joy Renner, chairwoman of the Faculty Athletics Committee, said the policy could raise some controversy because it assumes all freshman athletes are unprepared for academics in college.

“Most student-athletes are appropriately prepared and ready to handle both the academics and athletics, and to force them to delay participating in the sport they have trained and worked so hard to perfect seems unfair,” she said. “For some students, having their sport and team support is a major motivator to do well in academics and can help them with time management while they adapt to the new freedoms.”

Blake Dodge, a freshman track and field and cross-country runner, is also a redshirt during her first season at UNC. Dodge, a reporter for The Daily Tar Heel, said redshirting isn’t always positive for an athlete’s morale.

“There’s definitely something to be said about a lack of focus when you’re redshirted,” she said. “It’s harder to maintain a high energy level and a level of commitment that coaches expect.”

Dodge said one player’s or one group’s academic unpreparedness shouldn’t dictate policies for other athletes.

“I think it should be a case-by-case basis, even among basketball and football players,” she said.

The discussion about mandatory redshirting, Cunningham said, is meant to address a statistical history of academic unpreparedness among certain freshman athletes.

“The football and basketball players demonstrate the least preparedness,” he said.

Cunningham said either way, it’s time to reevaluate athletes’ experiences.

“There’s a lot of discussion about health and safety. There’s discussion about initial eligibility standards. As I mentioned, they’re changing. There’s discussion about time commitments,” he said. “In 2015, what does the collegiate experience look like?”


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