In April of 2015 the Big Ten Conference circulated a white paper, Education First, Athletics Second: The Time for a National Discussion is Upon Us, that proposed freshmen ineligibility for Division I football and men’s basketball players. The white paper argued that freshman ineligibility would benefit athletes academically, but that it should only apply to men’s basketball and football players because (1) their graduation rates lag behind those of athletes in other sports and (2) football and men’s basketball are the sports in which most NCAA academic infractions occur. The Drake Group notes that according to current research, “red shirting” (e.g., prohibiting an athlete from playing in the freshman year) by selected sport teams does not result in improved academic performance. In fact, research indicates that athletes who did not compete were more likely than those who competed to end the year in poor academic standing even when admitted under normal admission requirements.
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