Chris Petersen is glad the Pac-12 Conference is taking steps toward better compensating its athletes, such as guaranteeing all scholarships in all sports for a period of no fewer than four academic years.
But Washington’s football coach said he doesn’t think that particular reform is that big of a deal, because he already operates under the assumption that, barring behavioral or academic failure, each of his players will be assured four years of eligibility.
“If guys are eligible, doing the right things academically and staying out of trouble, they should be on scholarship for the whole time,” Petersen said. “And I think that’s what they’re going to say, anyways.”
The conference announced Monday that along with four-year guaranteed athletic scholarships beginning in 2015-16, student-athletes will also receive increased, post-college medical coverage for a period of up to four years to treat injuries suffered during their collegiate careers.
Also, the Pac-12 will allow athletes who leave school early and have completed at least 50 percent of their degree to return in the future and put unused funds from their original scholarship agreement toward the completion of their degree. And athletes who transfer from one Pac-12 school to another may, beginning in 2015-16, be put on scholarship immediately. That is not the case currently.
Petersen said he favors increased stipends for student-athletes — the Pac-12 supports incorporating the full cost of attendance in scholarship aid, though that issue won’t be voted on until January — because “for some of these kids, it’s really difficult to make ends meet.”
The four-year scholarship guarantee is significant. Under the current structure, scholarships are guaranteed for one year at a time and are renewable at the end of each academic year — meaning if a coach decides to drop a player simply for performance reasons, he or she can simply part ways with the athlete at the end of the year, and the team can replace that player’s scholarship with another.
That will no longer be the case. Beginning in 2015-16, if a student-athlete signs a scholarship agreement and adheres to the language and rules contained within, he or she is guaranteed four years of academic aid, regardless of on-field performance.
NOT VERY SPECIAL TEAMS
With their offense stagnant during a 24-10 loss to Arizona State on Saturday, the Huskies had a chance to gain some ground with a pair of big special-teams plays — but both were nullified by penalties.
First, the Huskies appeared to block an Arizona State punt on a fourth-and-15 from ASU’s 21-yard line early in the second quarter, but the officials called a penalty against safety Kevin King for running into the kicker.
The officials reviewed the play and upheld the ruling. Replays showed a UW player blocking the punt, which is supposed to nullify the possibility of a running-into-the-kicker penalty.
Petersen said Monday that UW submitted the play to the Pac-12 for clarification.
The Huskies also had another long kickoff return by John Ross called back because of a holding penalty. Ross returned a kickoff 77 yards into ASU territory late in the second quarter before freshman receiver Brayden Lenius was called for holding.
Petersen said after the game that if someone did commit a holding penalty on the play, it likely wasn’t Lenius, because he didn’t appear to be blocking anybody. Special-teams coach Jeff Choate is more interested to hear an explanation on the blocked punt.
“We need an interpretation on that, because I need to know how to coach our guys,” Choate said. “Some of the time, the blocks in the back and the holding penalties, those are a little bit subjective. But you need to know what the rule is (on the blocked punt) so you can instruct your players as to how to handle those situations. So we’re looking forward to hearing back on that.”
Ross, who returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown last season against Brigham Young, has also had two kick-return touchdowns wiped out this year because of penalties.
“If we need to be perfect, we’ve got to be perfect. That’s fine. We’ll be perfect,” Choate said. “We know that we’ve got a guy that if they kick him the ball, he’ll make something happen.”