In the NCAA, a player may take a redshirt season and stretch out his or her collegiate athletic eligibility over the course of five years.
This can be done for a variety of reasons.
Some athletes wish to gain an extra year of practice with the team while others transfer from a different school. It can also be done to take a break from the competition.
A consequence of this is that the athlete is often done with his or her degree after four years of schooling but may still have to take classes a fifth year in order to maintain athletic eligibility.
The NCAA requires graduate student-athletes take at least nine credit hours in a semester in order to keep eligibility.
While athletes can use this rule to sign up for what may be deemed blow-off classes with very little academic benefit, some Butler athletes use it to further their education and work toward degrees.
Senior Katie Clark, a member of Butler’s cross country and track and field teams, took a redshirt season during the track and field team’s 2012-13 indoor campaign.
She is making the most of her extra time in Butler academics by working toward her master’s degree in Butler’s school counseling program.
Clark said her required fifth year of schooling is an added benefit to red-shirting for one athletic season.
“Even though the whole student-athlete lifestyle can be a struggle at times, unless you have a pro contract waiting for you, I think the unique experience of competing in the NCAA is something you should drag out as long as you possibly can,” Clark said.
For former men’s basketball player Emerson Kampen, who is finishing up his final year, a redshirt allowed an easier schedule during basketball season.
“My fifth year allowed me to spread out my workload during basketball season, “ Kampen said. “I didn’t pick up another major or minor, (but) it was worth it because it allowed me to focus on my classes and not have a large workload during the basketball season.”
Whatever path is taken, it is clear the current redshirt system can be advantageous for student-athletes, providing an extra year of collegiate athletics and offering the opportunity for more time in higher education.