NCAA President Open to Fifth Year for Football Players

OKLAHOMA CITY -- NCAA president Myles Brand said he isn't necessarily opposed to a recent proposal by the NCAA football issues committee that would extend player eligibility in the sport to five years.

Brand, speaking Friday at the Women's College World Series, even said the idea "might be favorable" if it included the elimination of the practice of redshirting.

Brand said that 80 percent of Division I football players are being redshirted and that it takes the average student about 4.7 years to graduate from college.

"I think if we do it right, to make sure student-athletes actually have educational activities throughout their five years, which approximates the actual practice, and we do away with medical redshirting [and] actual redshirting, I don't see anything wrong with that," Brand said.

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 support, it would have to go through several NCAA committees before a membership vote.

During a wide-ranging news conference, Brand also said that he doesn't sense support among universities for a college football playing system and that the Academic Progress Report system -- which measures eligibility and retention of student-athletes and mandates penalties for schools not meeting certain requirements -- "is not going anywhere."

Brand said much of the support for a football playoff came from the media, and not necessarily the universities or their fans.

"The reason for that is, in Division I-A football, the most important events are the regular-season Saturday games," Brand said. "... The fact of the matter is it's those Saturdays that the institutions look forward to, and a great many in their fan base do [as well].

"If you ask me why don't we really have a playoff at this point, I think the real answer is there is concern about putting at risk the regular season, the Saturday afternoons, the traditional rivalries. Can you figure out a way to get both? I think that will be the question that is asked. Right now, as far as I can tell, unless something changes, we're going to stay where we are."

Florida president Bernie Machen had developed a playoff plan, but said earlier Friday that he was backing off after talking about the issue with others who attended the Southeastern Conference's spring meeting in Destin, Fla. Machen said it would be better to work within the confines of the Bowl Championship Series system.

Brand said he isn't surprised there is debate about having a playoff.

"Over the next year or two, we're going to see some conversation," he said. "Where that will lead is not clear. Where is the NCAA's role in it? The NCAA's role in it is to be supportive of the schools and the conferences for whatever it is they decide to do."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press