Instead of Jim Delany’s blanket ineligibility proposal for incoming freshmen student-athletes, the Mississippi State coach offers something more nuanced to help kids adjust: Any player above the NCAA’s new core grade-point-average requirement should get five years of eligibility instead of the standard four.
As he explains it, here’s what you’d get with that.
“You might take a freshman and they are being punished for having better grades. They might be forced to play even though they needed a redshirt year,” Mullen says. “One of the thoughts I had was there’s a mandatory academic redshirt year for a certain group of people…well, if you are above that new standard you should get five years of eligibility. Why punish someone who might be forced to have to play?
“Instead of punishing guys for doing bad, why not reward guys for doing good?”
Well, that’s nice, but he’s a coach, so you can figure there’s another agenda lurking in the background. And there is.
His idea is to counteract the NCAA’s requirement, set to go into effect August 2016, which requires prospective student-athletes to have a minimum GPA of 2.3. If the recruits can’t hit that 2.3 GPA figure but are above the old 2.0 scale, they’d be forced to take an academic redshirt year. The NCAA also raised its sliding scale based on GPA and SAT/ACT scores, and now requires recruits to have completed 10 of their 16 core classes before their senior year.
Mullen imagines a hypothetical scenario in which multiple players have to take an academic redshirt year, and how that’d force other guys into playing time before they might be ready. That’s the impetus behind his push to give those players an extra year of eligibility.
If Mullen’s idea were passed, it could dramatically change the way programs recruit. Schools would still recruit talented players with shaky transcripts, but the benefits of signing a stronger student would be big when another year of eligibility is on the table. It would even the scales a bit for programs with tough admissions standards.
So what he’s really after is more signing flexibility. That, in and of itself, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. (In fact, if it leads to less pressure on coaches to futz with players’ grades, it’s likely a good thing.) But the bottom line here is that this is about giving guys like him a lifeline to be able to manage continuing to bring in athletic talent that isn’t so talented in the classroom. And to the extent that eases the pressure on high schools and high schoolers to bring their academic efforts up to a more serious level, that isn’t such a good thing.
What do y’all think?