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Washington President Suggests Designating A Franchise Player In College Sports

University of Washington president Michael Young has some interesting ideas on how to change college sports, which he explained when he and Washington State president Elson Floyd sat down for an interview with the Seattle Times. His most interesting idea: designating "franchise players" who are forced to sit out a year if they transfer, but letting the rest of a roster be allowed to transfer freely.

Young notes that in law, his academic pursuit, students commonly transferred based on available curriculum or the departure of a Ph.D. professor. Referring to Bellevue recruit Budda Baker’s change of heart from Oregon to Washington, Young says, “I think he changed his commitment because I think he saw Chris Petersen was passionate about discipline and that was exactly the same way he was. If Chris had left and somebody came in whom Baker didn’t think he was going to thrive under ... I don’t know if kids should be held to that.”

He concedes that without some restrictions — perhaps on transferring within the conference — the roster churns could be problematic.

“One possibility is, like the pros, you get to designate a franchise player or two,” Young said. “(Or) five kids who can’t transfer, or if they transfer, they have to sit out a year, and the whole rest of your team is OK. I don’t know, I’m just making that stuff (up). We’ll have to figure that out.”

This is certainly an interesting idea, even though Young admits he thought of it on the fly. However, it wasn't Young's only proposed idea, as the Washington president suggested restoring a radical and controversial rule that used to exist in college basketball: preventing freshmen from being eligible to play until they are sophomores.

As for the onerous one-and-done-to-the NBA phenomenon, Young says it “profoundly distorts the nature of the university and the university experience and whom we ought to be attracting.” Asked if he cringed when UW guard Tony Wroten Jr. opted for the NBA after one season at the UW, Young says, “Yeah, I did.”

The presidents thus birthed their most eye-catching proposal — “considering restoring the freshman-ineligibility rule in men’s basketball.” Young acknowledges, “It would be most usefully combined with the NBA kind of lifting its restriction on drafting out of high school.”

That one would be highly controversial, if for no other reason than NCAA freshman eligibility has been in place since 1972-73. As for the singling out of one sport, Floyd says, “I think we’re going to begin to look at individual sports in a somewhat different way. It has to be customized, in my judgment, in each of the sports.”

While Young's suggestions are a bit radical, they're also intriguing, for better or worse. Of course, there are more practical solutions to these issues -- especially the freshman ineligibility one, as there are suggestions like forcing players to stay in school for two years instead of one -- so it's unlikely that either of Young's ideas will ever come to fruition.