- Eamonn Brennan, ESPN Staff Writer
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On Monday, we discussed the NCAA's proposed summer school rule, which would require universities to assess incoming freshmen's academic records and, in turn, obligate those universities to enroll students that needed academic help in at least six credit hours of pre-freshman summer classes. In turn, coaches would get to create an eight-week summer period in which they could spend eight hours per week -- including two hours for "skill development" -- working with players enrolled in early summer classes.
The implied idea, then, is to give coaches a reason to get their students in class early. It's hard to imagine any coach turning that opportunity down.
Seems like a great idea, right? Right. It seems so great, in fact, that on Monday I couldn't seem to find anything wrong with it. Coaches get to work with players. Players get to work with coaches. Players get to go to class. The NCAA gets to beef up incoming academic requirements. Basically, everybody wins.
Then again, it was only a matter of time until someone pointed out an issue with the new rule. That someone is Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt, by way of the Sporting News' Mike DeCourcy:
"I am somewhat concerned about the double jeopardy you’re putting a kid in," said Hewitt, a member of the National Association of Basketball Coaches board. "If a young man goes to summer school and for whatever reason -- maybe a family emergency -- if he did not pass his hours, you could be putting him in jeopardy of being ineligible. I’m not sure that’s what everybody had in mind when we advocated strongly for summer school."
No, probably not. But I'm not sure Hewitt's point is entirely valid.
His concern is that players who had previously qualified academically could then be lose that qualification by performing poorly in summer school. Emergencies happen, sure. Players have to deal with family issues. As with any rule, there will be unanticipated exceptions and, yes, a player could lose his freshman eligibility during summer school. It could happen.
But what makes that any different from a freshman's first semester at school? Players can be academically eligible in November and lose that eligibility if they fall behind in fall class. Emergencies happen in November, too.
If anything, summer school should be much easier: The new rule requires a mere six credit hours (and players only have to pass three), and the strains on a player's time -- those eight-hour-per-week workout sessions, mostly -- should be much less difficult to manage than a full course load in the midst of practice- and travel-filled season. With study tables and tutors and let's not think about what else, each school's athletic department (along with, you know, the player himself) is already responsible for keeping everyone academically eligible. Presumably those methods would extend to summer class.
So, yes, while it would be a major bummer for a player to qualify -- "Woo! College hoops! I did it! Look out world!" -- and then lose out on a portion of his freshman season in the summer -- "Wait, what? College hoops? Rah? Huh?" -- it's hard to see that happening too often. If anything, it'll happen far less often in the fall.
Which means, as far as I can tell, we still haven't found a problem with the new summer school rule. Not that we'll stop trying. In the meantime, you win again, summer school. You clever legislative proposal, you.