A lot of the drama surrounding the 2017 Pitt football season centered on head coach Pat Narduzzi’s decision of whether or not to burn Kenny Pickett’s redshirt when Ben DiNucci’s helmet became dislodged in the Panthers’ Week 6 loss to Syracuse.
Starting this season, that won’t be a tough decision at all.
The NCAA ruled on Wednesday that Division I football player can now play in up to four games and still take a redshirt year.
“This change promotes not only fairness for college athletes, but also their health and well-being,” Division I council chair and Miami athletic director Blake James said in a press release. “Redshirt football student-athletes are more likely to remain engaged with the team, and starters will be less likely to feel pressure to play through injuries. Coaches will appreciate the additional flexibility and ability to give younger players an opportunity to participate in limited competition.”
The rule will come into effect for both FBS and FCS teams at the beginning of the 2018 season.
Football players will still need to complete their four seasons of eligibility in five school years, just like other student-athletes. Mid-season enrollees, which are more common in other sports and relatively rare in football, will not be able to utilize the rule.
Pickett ended up playing in just four games for Pitt last season, so if the new rules had been in place, he’d be walking into his redshirt freshman year in 2018 instead of playing as a true sophomore. Another notable Pitt player that the rule would have helped is Damar Hamlin, who played just two games as a freshman in 2016.