College football’s new redshirt rule isn’t set in stone, according to West Virginia athletic director Shane Lyons.
Speaking during an appearance on West Virginia MetroNews Talkline with Hoppy Kercheval, Lyons said that the NCAA Division I Football oversight committee will revisit the rule allowing players to play in up to four games while redshirting.
Prior to 2018, players traditionally couldn’t play in any games during their redshirt year. The intention of the new rule was to allow underclassmen to receive limited playing experience without burning eligibility.
However, the redshirt option is open to freshmen through seniors. Lyons, the chair of the oversight committee, is worried the rule is being used in a way that wasn’t intended, as some older players have played in several games before sitting out or deciding to transfer.
“I don’t think it’s a good optic for college sports,” Lyons told MetroNews, noting that the committee will discuss the rule during their January meeting. “The way it looks, a student-athlete is potentially quitting on his team.”
Lyons has first-hand experience with this situation. West Virginia senior JoVanni Stewart played four games this year before deciding to transfer, while senior Martell Pettaway, who played in just three games in 2016 due to injury, earned that eligibility back by playing in just four games this year.
Lyons is concerned that these decisions take away from the team aspect of college football.
“In my role, I’m worried about the 120 guys in the locker room, not just the one individual,” he told MetroNews. “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.”
According to the Associated Press, the rule was popular with players and coaches when it was put in place prior to the 2018 season.
“Brilliant. Love it,” Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck said at the time. “Greatest rule the NCAA has ever put in in the last 20 years.”