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Tuesday, May 25, 2004

The Beloved Mid-Majors

SportsProf has been thinking about the mid-majors and the recent elimination of the NCAA's 5/8 rule for college basketball recruiting. Basically, the 5/8 rule provided that a college program could offer no more than 5 scholarships in one year or eight in a two-year period, most likely to prevent "overrecruiting". Some programs have run into hardship because of this rule, such as Texas Tech when Bob Knight arrived, and any school that endures a coaching change and a rush of transfers seemingly found itself in a bind because of that rule. So what did the NCAA do? It eliminated the rule, and, ironically, followed the Ivies, which never had the rule applied to them because they don't offer athletic scholarships. The Ivies always have been able to bring in as many players they wanted each year.

What are the practical ramifications? The pundits believe that the mid-majors will suffer because the bigger schools won't have to manage their scholarships as carefully, with the result that they should always have an extra scholarship available for that one player who "just might make the difference." One pundit believes that 200 players who otherwise would go to mid-majors now will go to bigger schools, thereby diluting their talent pool. That may be right, but to me there also will be a boatload of additional transfers.

Why more transfers? Think about it? If you're recruited by an ACC school and get there only to find that you are the fourth two guard, you might want to go somewhere where you can get playing time. Plenty of kids transfer already, and with the bigger schools having the potential to overload and schools already having the right not to renew a scholarship year-in and year-out, more kids will transfer.

As for the Ivies, they routinely bring in 5 kids a year into their programs. Some are bona fide varsity players, others might play another sport, might be practice player material, but still they bring in their 5 kids a year -- or more. Brown, for example, is bringing in 8 kids according to That's a lot of kids, but when you read stats like that you don't know how many kids are committed players and how many want to spend more time in the computer lab and join the Young Democrats. In any event, I'm not sure that the lack of a rule has helped the Ivies (Princeton, for one, has had a significant amount of player movement in the past several years -- even with that, the Tigers have won 2 titles in the past 4 years).

So good luck Mid-Majors -- perhaps instead of enjoying a good player for 4 years, you'll now have him playing for you for 3.


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