NIU athletics: Frazier not in favor of freshman ineligibility

By Frank Gogola

Athletic Director Sean Frazier opposes the idea of freshman ineligibility.

Freshman ineligibility would force incoming freshmen to sit out their first year of college athletics to better adapt to college academics. The “year of readiness for all sports — or select sports” is an idea floated out by the Big Ten in a Feb. 24 news release in which the conference reached out to “thought leaders” prior to the 2016 NCAA National Convention.

“I think it’s propaganda,” Frazier said. “I think that those who brought this up — although well-intentioned — I think this is a way to divert the real issue. I think that the situation is that freshman ineligibility is a great way to throw us off track about making sure that student-athletes have balance in their lives both academically and athletically.”

Freshmen were deemed ineligible by an NCAA rule up until 1972. Freshman ineligibility was scrapped because of financial motives, according to a Feb. 19 The Diamondback article.

Frazier said he’s “not sold” on freshman ineligibility. As a data-driven guy he said he’d like to see metrics that freshmen on all levels can’t balance academics and athletics before they have their eligibility stripped.

NIU’s student-athletes have posted a graduation success rate of 89 percent, a new high for the third-straight year, according to an October NIU Athletics news release. The football team, which has made it to five-straight MAC Championship games, registered a GSR of 91 percent, which is eighth-best in the country among FBS teams and first among public institutions that played in bowl games this past season, according to a February news release.

“We’ve got the secret sauce here,” Frazier said. “It’s called paying attention to your athletes socially, academically and athletically. … I think taking them out in their freshman year because you feel they need to focus more on academics … is a mistake.

“I think you need to focus on the holistic approach of the student-athlete. … You need to fix the issues around the total experience for the student-athlete, and those have to do with connectivity across campus, in your community and in your athletic department.”