By the NCAA, with the near-unanimous support of basketball coaches, the so-called ? rule, which limited the number of scholarships a school could award to five a year and eight total over a two-year period. (The maximum number of players a team may have under scholarship will remain 13.) The rule, enacted in 1999, grew out of a concern that coaches were forcing players to transfer in hopes of bringing in superior talent, but coaches persuaded NCAA president Myles Brand that the rule had outlived its usefulness. "At the coaches' meeting at the Final Four some guys said that this was the worst rule ever put in college basketball," Manhattan coach Bobby Gonzalez says. "This will give more opportunities to players and coaches."
However, abolishing the rule will make life Tougher for Gonzalez, whose Jaspers upset Florida in The first round of the 2004 NCAA tournament. With the limits eased, there will be less talent available to mid-major schools. Approximately 200 scholarships were not filled last year in Division I, largely because of the ? rule. Georgia coach Dennis Felton, for instance, can now offer nine scholarships to his high-profile SEC school this year. "The pool of players is definitely going to be smaller now for the mid-major schools," says College of Charleston coach Tom Herrion, who nonetheless was happy to see the rule go. "I think that rule is a major reason why we've seen so much parity the last few years." The NCAA also voted last week to forbid schools from replacing scholarship players who become academically ineligible, a decision that has also been well-received. "Schools should be penalized if they're not moving players toward graduation," Herrion says.