It now takes students an average of six years to complete a four-year degree. Yet college football players are granted a four-year scholarship which is only extended to five years if the player takes a redshirt year and does not play in that particular season while participating in all other team activities and attending classes.
Players Have Tight Schedules
A former coworker of mine was a center on a Division I-AA (formerly called Division II) college football team. I recall him telling me that practice, working-out, team meetings, studying the playbook, games and school work literally left him almost zero time for a social life or anything else for that matter. Players on the Division I level must have even less free time. To expect them to complete a four-year degree in four or five years when they have less time to devote to their studies than non-college athletes is simply ridiculous.
The Case for Six-Year Scholarships
Division I scholarship athletes should be granted six-year scholarships. Doing so would not only be fair and just it will have other beneficial results. All Division I schools are pledged to increasing the graduation rates of its scholarship athletes. Allowing them up to another two years to finish their degree will accomplish this goal.
Six-year scholarships could be implemented in one of two ways. If today’s rule allowing players four years of playing eligibility is maintained, all players could take two redshirt years at some point during their academic careers.
A superior option would be keeping the option of a single redshirt year and increase the number of seasons an athlete can play on the field from four to five. Extending a player’s playing career will allow fans to enjoy star players longer. Fans will then become even more attached to players and teams. The popularity of the sport will grow. It will bring in even more revenue that can be used to help fund the money losing college sports besides football and basketball. A portion of the money now funneled into athletic department budgets can be spent elsewhere.
Some might argue that if six-year scholarships were offered fewer students could be able to take advantage of athletic scholarships each year because there would be less turnover on team’s rosters from season to season. Not every player would take advantage of the extra one or two years. Since some would, increasing the total number of scholarship players on each roster would be in order. Raising the number from eighty-five to ninety-five would be perfect.
I am perplexed that it was even necessary to write this blog post. That the course of action I have championed was not implemented many years ago defies belief. Perhaps what is needed is for college football fans to email the heads of athletic departments across the country and advocate for this reform. Together we fans can take the game we love to another level.
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