Academic Redshirt Could Have Big Implications
The NCAA has announced a new set of rules for the "barely qualified". Players who meet the minimum standard to qualify academically to participate in athletics but that didn't clear the bar by more than a few grade points will be required to redshirt their first year. That means they can practice for the first semester but not participate in athletics. While this could serve to boost academic performance and graduation rates, it would have some added advantages in revenue producing sports.
A player who redshirts generally offers a school a better four years of eligibility than a player who doesn't. In that sense, the schools might get a better product on the field and on the court, in addition to a boost in academic performance.
Where it may cost schools and academically challenged prospects is when the schools were needing instant help for their roster. If you need to plug a player in early, you need to be sure they won't have to redshirt. That could keep a player from being recruited by a school that might otherwise have been interested.
The implication for basketball is also interesting. Let's say a player was good enough to be drafted by the NBA out of high school. The NBA requires a player to wait at least one year after their high school class graduates. Now, that player may not be eligible to play college basketball their first year out of high school. Do they sit and then play in their second year to solidify their draft position? Do they practice for a semester and then skip college basketball altogether? Do they head to a junior college or lower division school? Or does the NBA just use the new rule to raise the age at which a player can be drafted?
The other major implication involves the medical redshirt and additional years of eligibility. In the past, a player injured early in their first season could receive a medical redshirt. If they had another injury that cost them an additional season, they could become eligible for an additional year of eligibility. Academic redshirts may not have that luxury. Their first year would have been lost to academics rather than injury.
Nebraska already seemed focused on recruiting kids who performed well academically. Perhaps this will increase competition for these kids. However, it could also give the Huskers a boost as their focus on academics is hard to beat.