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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