History made! ODU beats Virginia Tech in stunning upset, 49-35

Redshirt rule change: NCAA amends player participation policy in Division I football

Mercedes-Benz Stadium during the College Football Playoff National Championship. (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Michelle Brutlag Hosick, NCAA.org) – College athletes competing in Division I football can participate in up to four games in a season without using a season of competition, the Division I Council decided this week at its meeting in Indianapolis.

Division I student-athletes have five years to compete in up to four seasons of competition. The new exception allows football players to preserve a season of competition if, for example, injuries or other factors result in them competing in a small number of games.

Virginia Tech head football coach Justin Fuente applauds the rule change. “It’s positive for our student-athletes to be afforded the opportunity to get some limited game experience without penalizing them,” Fuente said in a statement. “I’m all for the change.”

Old Dominion head football coach Bobby Wilder agrees. “I am very excited with the ruling today allowing student-athletes to play four games without losing a redshirt year,” Wilder said. “This will allow the freshmen to remain engaged throughout the season and also will help with injury prevention.”

A general view of Lane Stadium. (Photo by Michael Shroyer/Getty Images)

Council chair Blake James, athletics director at Miami (Florida), said the rule change benefits student-athletes and coaches alike.

“This change promotes not only fairness for college athletes, but also their health and well-being. 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,” James said. “Coaches will appreciate the additional flexibility and ability to give younger players an opportunity to participate in limited competition.”

The proposal was tabled in April over questions about timing, the number of games and potential application to other sports. To mitigate one concern, the Council adopted noncontroversial legislation to specify that midyear enrollees who participate in postseason football competition that occurs before or during the student-athlete’s first term at a school cannot use the exception.

Several representatives of different governance groups reiterated concerns that caused the proposal to be tabled in April. The Division I Student-Athlete Experience Committee will examine how a similar concept could be applied to other sports, including what number of games would be appropriate. In its review, the committee will consult with the Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.

Both the Football Bowl Subdivision and Football Championship Subdivision representatives on the Council adopted both rules. They are effective for the 2018-19 football season.