OMAHA, Neb. (AP) -The move to 12-game schedules in college football has revived a proposal that would extend player eligibility to five years.
The NCAA football issues committee, led by Nebraska athletic director Steve Pederson, has requested that the proposal be discussed at the spring meetings of Division I football-playing conferences. Even if the idea gains traction, it would have to go through several NCAA committees before a membership vote.
``We'll run it up the flagpole to see if anybody salutes it,'' said former Baylor coach Grant Teaff, executive director of the American Football Coaches Association.
The NCAA's leadership has taken no position on the proposal because it is still preliminary, spokesman Bob Williams said.
``If a certain community feels change needs to be made within the structure of eligibility, then they propose it and it works through the process. The membership decides after that,'' Williams said.
Pederson said the football issues committee would weigh feedback from conference meetings before deciding whether to pursue legislation.
Barry Alvarez, Wisconsin's athletic director and former football coach, said he likes the proposal because it creates more team depth. But Alvarez fears it would limit opportunities because fewer roster spots would open each year.
Under current rules, student-athletes in all sports generally have five years to complete four years of eligibility.
Football scholarship reductions in the 1990s fueled the initial call for five years of eligibility. Administrators shot down the proposal, mainly because it separated football from other sports and ran counter to the traditional four-year academic cycle.
Teaff pointed out that it's now the norm for college students to take more than four years to finish degrees.
It's doubtful the scholarship limit would ever increase, Teaff said, yet the standard schedule has increased to 12 games and the possibility exists for a playoff system.
Though major programs are allowed 85 scholarships, attrition and redshirting can leave them taking the field with significantly fewer scholarship players, Teaff said.
Under the five-year proposal, there would be no redshirting or medical hardship cases.
``The redshirt thing, with 12 games, becomes a huge burden,'' Teaff said. ``Then there is the bowl game for many of the teams on top of the 12. Teams need everybody available.''
Though players wouldn't be required to stay all five years, some of them would, Alvarez said.
That's a problem, he said, because not everybody who signs a letter of intent becomes a contributor.
``There would be an entitlement to five years,'' Alvarez said. ``As a coach, you want them to graduate in four. If they're not contributing, you need that scholarship to replenish your team.''
Teaff downplayed Alvarez's concern about mediocre players hogging roster spots. He said players usually transfer if they're not playing. He also noted that players who redshirt under current rules are on scholarship for five years anyway.
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On the Net:
American Football Coaches Association: http://www.afca.com/
National Collegiate Athletic Association: http://www.ncaasports.com

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