The idea of putting academics first isn’t a new one. And it isn’t going away anytime soon. A “year of readiness” charge is being led by Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany, and though it’s easy to take the words coming from high up at face value, it’s also beneficial to see what those being potentially affected have to say on the matter.
Kentrail Moran is a high school junior in O’Fallon, Illinois, being recruited as a running back by Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Louisville, among others. His speed makes him a very intriguing prospect to some of the Midwest’s top football schools.
“Michigan is already No. 1,” Moran told The Big House Report.
But Michigan is in the Big Ten, and with things heading the way they are right now, it could be players like Moran who are affected by a year of readiness rule.
Establishment of a year of readiness would very likely affect only football and men’s basketball players, making true freshmen ineligible. The central idea is it helps promote academics while athletics are not there immediately to serve as a distraction.
Although Delany said in a statement that the Big Ten “won’t go it alone on any of these matters,” Marc Tracy of the New York Times confirmed with an NCAA spokeswoman that freshmen ineligibility would have to be regulated at the conference level or by all of Division I. The issue would be need to be regulated separately by the Football Bowl Subdivision and Football Championship Subdivision.
“That’s smart,” Moran said of the potential policy, “but at the same time it can be iffy.”
Iffy because there are so many questions that need to be answered. And the NCAA does not have the best reputation when it comes to clearing the fog.
Austin Mack is a high school junior in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and he too is being pursued by football powerhouses in the Midwest for his exceptional skills as a wide receiver.
Though he says the policy, if only adopted by the Big Ten, wouldn’t affect his college decision, he knows where he stands on the issue.
“I’d hope they wouldn’t do it,” Mack said.
Mack holds a scholarship offer from Ohio State, where he was on Jan. 24 when the Buckeyes were celebrating their first national championship since 2002. Whether it’s Ohio State or another school, the Big Ten looks like the likely destination for Mack.
Should this move be made and freshmen become ineligible right off the bat, it wouldn’t be the first time. Freshmen football and men’s basketball players were not eligible to play until the NCAA changed its policy in 1972.
Tyler Fenwick is the managing editor of The Big House Report. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.