MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Expect exploitation of college football’s redshirt rule to be a topic of conversation the next time college football’s rules committee gets together.
West Virginia athletic director Shane Lyons is the current chair of the NCAA Division I Football oversight committee, and a recent rule change meant to benefit athletes will be getting additional scrutiny when the committee meets in January.
Starting in 2018, players were allowed to play in up to four games while still keeping a redshirt for that season. The idea was to get younger players game experience without it costing one of the four years they have available to play.
You could find the poster boy for why the rule was needed on West Virginia’s own roster. Injuries forced running back Martell Pettaway to play in three games as a freshman in 2016, and it cost him a full year of eligibility.
But now that some veteran players are using the rule as a loophole — playing four games before sitting the remainder of the year so they can transfer — Lyons said the oversight committee with revisit the topic.
“I don’t think it’s a good optic for college sports,” Lyons said in an appearance on MetroNews Talkline with Hoppy Kercheval. “The way it looks, a student-athlete is potentially quitting on his team.
“In my role, I’m worried about the 120 guys in the locker room, not just the one individual. In a lot of cases, the one individual is getting a lot of publicity for not playing any further. A lot of that erodes what you’re trying to do in the locker room to build a team. And they’re the ones making a decision rather than a coach determining the playing time of a student-athlete.
“It’s something the committee will look at in their January meeting to make any adjustments as necessary.”
West Virginia’s brush with the rule this past season came when senior safety JoVanni Stewart decided to enter the transfer portal after four games. At the same time, Pettaway decided to gain back his lost season, sitting the remainder of 2019 so he can play for the Mountaineers next year.
Former WVU coach Dana Holgorsen is at the forefront of pushing the rule in a far different direction than was originally intended.
When Holgorsen’s Houston team stumbled to a 1-3 start, star senior quarterback D’Eriq King and wide receiver Keith Corbin were redshirted so the Cougars could try to load up for a run in 2020. In all, 35 players ended up redshirting at Houston this season.