Once again busting the myth of a 15-practice limit before bowl games

We wrote about this last year, but since the audience has grown significantly since then, why not revisit the timely issue. Alabama starts practice today for the Jan. 9 BCS national title game.

Well, reporters like myself have fallen victim to a commonly-held misunderstanding of NCAA rules. Stories about postseason football often cite a 15-practice limit for participants. I’ve written it assuming it was fact.

Guess what? It’s a myth.

The quest for the truth came last season when writing about Capital One Bowl preparations. Here’s what I wrote a year ago:

After trading emails with UA and the rule was called into question, I started hunting around. I poured through the NCAA rule book and found no reference to a 15-practice limit. There is also a separate publication from the NCAA specific to bowl games. Still, no rule listed.

That’s when I got frustrated. How can so many reporters — again myself included — write about this rule if it can’t be found. Finally, I wrote to Stacey Osburn, the NCAA spokesperson who deals with infractions. Here’s what she wrote back in response:

“I’m not sure where the media has gotten the number 15 either, because it is not accurate.”

There is, however, a 15-date limit for spring practice. None for bowl prep.

So, there you go. Myth busted. It won’t win me my first Pulitzer, but I felt good about trying to end this trend of lazy reporting — a sin I once committed but never again.


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Also see: River City Rumblings prep blog

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