The Pac 12 and Big Ten are considering (but really trying to build national consensus) on a plan to make all football and basketball freshman ineligible. They are doing it under the guise that this is best for the student athlete. That's nonsense. This is just another move by coaches and administrators to get power back from the athletes and to a lessor extent SEC Football. Based on our protest vote against paying athletes, I am sure BC will gladly join the movement, but I think it is bad for the athletes and bad for BC.
As much as I turn a blind eye, football and basketball players are exploited in the current system. The education they receive is watered down and at times a complete academic fraud. There is very little free market movement and most of these guys don't belong in college and don't want to be in a classroom. The NFL and NBA get a free developmental league and the colleges get money and exposure. The majority of the college athletes get nothing. In an ideal world, there would be real basketball and football minor leagues and college sports could operate as an alternative path, like they do in baseball, hockey and soccer. Restricting players in those two sports gives guys without options, even fewer options to develop their skills or find their true value. If you really are an elite star and good enough to play at 18, shouldn't you be on the field getting better and raising your value? Sitting for a year -- even if you are still practicing and going to class -- stunts the growth of the truly elite.
While the Pac 12 and Big Ten and probably many members of the ACC believe that this will restrict the SEC's dominance, I think it will just lead to more corruption and that hurts BC too. In theory limiting freshman play will lead to more talent distribution. But really I think the SEC schools will just churn their freshmen in other ways. More of these permanent redshirts will come down with "career threatening" injuries while practicing and be out of the Bamas and LSUs of the world after one fall, while BC sticks with our underperforming recruits. I also think you will see more players graduating high school early so that they can speed up their time to the pros and still remain young. You see players in hockey graduate and enroll early at times. Now imagine this on a national scale. Enrolling 16 and 17 year-old high school juniors will favor schools with less academic rigor and schools that are closer to the athletes home. That again favors the SEC programs in the talent rich sun belt states.
Kevin Garnett spurred a movement of NBA prospects skipping college altogether in the mid '90s. Then the NBA instituted its age limit rule and we've seen an influx of one and done players. While I don't think it is the main reason we've struggled in basketball of late, I think BC was certainly better off in the no college era than the one and done era. When the best 5 to 10 prospects are skipping college and going straight to the NBA, it makes the playing field a little more even. Kentucky and Duke are still going to get the best players who want to take the college path, but often times those guys were more raw and less of a sure thing. I hope that an ineligible rule would spark a movement of the tops prospects to the D-League or overseas, but I fear it will just mean the best basketball players will still go to Duke and UNC and just skip their senior year of high school. BC's not going to come out ahead in those scenarios.
One of BC's tools for success has been player development and education. If other schools are forced into more serious development and education paths via new rules, it takes away one of our advantages.
I don't know if any of this will pass or lead to further schisms in college sports. I just hope that BC does what's right for our student athletes and athletes in general.