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Thad Matta: ‘No way’ freshmen will be held out of competition

The idea of making freshmen student-athletes ineligible has been floated in recent days, but Ohio State men’s basketball coach Thad Matta said he’s confident it will stay an idea.

“There’s no way they can do that, I just can’t see that happening,” Matta said Saturday.

On Thursday, the Maryland student newspaper, The Diamondback, first reported that the Big Ten was looking into the idea of holding freshmen athletes out of competition. Such a rule was in effect up until 1972, but first-year students have been eligible for more than 40 years.

While the conversation has been centered around the Big Ten, Matta said any rule making freshmen ineligible would be nationwide, something he’s been questioned about on the recruiting trail.

“We’re getting crushed on this thing,” Matta said. “It’s not going to happen, why they linked the Big Ten to it, I don’t know. But I’ve been dealing with that the last couple days trying to explain that if it does happen, which it’s not going to, but if it does it’s not just the Big Ten, it will be across college basketball.

“But some of the other colleagues of mine in different leagues are saying, ‘No it would just be the Big Ten.’ And then I’ve got to explain how that goes, and it’s been a nightmare.”

Matta added that he can’t be 100 percent sure the rule will stay just an idea, but said it’s been an ordeal trying to make sure recruits and their families understand any rule would affect the entire NCAA.

“I don’t know that for a fact, I probably spoke out of turn there, but I’m a little bit upset that I’ve been dealing with this through the recruiting angles,” he said.

OSU senior guard Shannon Scott, who appeared in 36 of 39 games during the Buckeyes’ Final Four run his freshman year, said he might have benefited from a year out of competition.

“It’s possible, I guess you could maybe lift a little bit more, get stronger,” Scott said Saturday. “Not focus so much on conditioning and stuff like that, but I’m not really sure about that.”

Academically, Scott said there was an adjustment when he started college, but it was nothing too drastic.

“It’s different, but it’s something that you’ve gotta adjust to,” Scott said. “You go to school probably about 3-4 hours a day, in high school it’s probably about eight hours a day, so it’s really not too much change that you should be struggling with in that case.”

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