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Boeheim, Matta, both Pitinos on freshmen ineligibility: It won’t happen

Kennesaw State v Syracuse

Getty Images

Getty Images

In the last couple of weeks, reports have come out that both the Pac-12 and the Big Ten are considering a rule change that would make freshmen ineligible for their first year in college.

It’s stupid, and it borders on discriminatory. I think we all recognize that, which is why you’re going to be seeing plenty of really good writers pen really good columns on just how stupid the change would be.

But those columns will kind of miss the point: It’s not going to happen. Freshmen aren’t going to be made ineligible in college basketball or football. Not in the Big Ten, the Pac-12, the SEC or any other league.

Just ask the coaches.

“There’s no way they can do that, I just can’t see that happening,” Matta said Saturday. But Matta has been getting crushed on the recruiting trail over this, and even admitted that he “spoke out of turn” and is more frustrated over the negative recruiting than anything.

But his colleagues, some of the sport’s biggest names, agree with him.

“Any of the really good freshmen would not come to college,” Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said on the ACC teleconference on Monday afternoon when asked about the rule change. “It’s something that will never happen and I don’t know why people are talking about it. It makes absolutely no sense.”

Louisville head coach Rick Pitino agrees.

“It’s nice conversation, but it won’t happen because it costs money to run freshman teams,” Pitino told the Courier-Journal last week. “And as soon as you tell (athletic directors) it costs money, they don’t like it.”

“I think in theory, it has a lot of good things,” Pitino added. “Players mature. They understand the reason they’re there. It creates discipline in their life. It humbles them a little bit, so they’re not the star coming in right away.

“So there’s a lot of good things to it, but it’s not going to happen.”

Pitino’s son, Richard, who is the head coach at Minnesota, perhaps made the most valid point.

“If you told [Kentucky’s] Karl Towns he’s not ready to play college basketball this year, that’s a ridiculous statement,” Pitino said, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “D’Angelo Russell is not ready to play college basketball? That’s ludicrous. So maybe for us, the guys that we recruit, some of them may not be ready, it may be helpful for them. Like [Minnesota freshman] Bakary [Konate]. But again, I don’t know how you do it. I don’t know how you tell Trey Lyles from Kentucky or [Duke’s] Jahlil Okafor that they’re not ready to play. Jahlil Okafor is ready to start in the NBA.”

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