Archaic Ivy League rule leads Columbia star to drop out of school

Archaic Ivy League rule leads Columbia star to drop out of school

Most college basketball players who suffer a serious injury a few weeks before the season either return once it heals or opt to take a medical redshirt if the recovery process takes too long.

The Ivy League's archaic, ill-conceived rules forced Columbia star Alex Rosenberg to opt for a more extreme option.

Almost two weeks after Rosenberg broke his foot during practice, the Columbia Spectator reported that the 6-foot-7 senior forward has withdrawn from school and will miss the entire 2014-15 season. The decision presumably is an attempt by Rosenberg to circumvent the Ivy League's rules requiring athletes to use all four seasons of eligibility in their first four years of enrollment and prohibiting them from competing as graduate students.

The only way an Ivy League athlete can successfully petition for a fifth year without transferring to a school in another conference is by demonstrating academic circumstances are involved and no coach or athletic department official is exerting undue pressure. By withdrawing from school now and and then reenrolling next fall, Rosenberg avoids graduating next spring, has no need to petition for a fifth year and should successfully regain his eligibility through a loop hole.

Assuming Rosenberg takes that path, he'll be following the same route as former Harvard standouts Kyle Casey and Brandon Curry utilized last season. Casey and Curry both withdrew from school for a full year at Harvard after being implicated in a cheating scandal. They then returned for the 2013-14 school year, enabling to play that season.

Credit Rosenberg for being creative to avoid being penalized for suffering a serious injury, but this is an extreme option that Ivy League athletes shouldn't have to use. They should be able to take a medical redshirt year just like athletes from other conferences without having to worry about the long odds of trying to win a petition for a fifth season.

Dropping out a year not only prevents Rosenberg from being a year into his graduate education by the time he leaves Columbia but also forces him to fully disassociate himself from the basketball program until next fall. He can't be on the bench at games. He can't attend practices or team functions as a member of the program. It will be as if he temporarily doesn't exist.

The one silver lining to all this for Rosenberg is that Columbia could be among the 2015-16 Ivy League favorites assuming he successfully reenrolls.

Rosenberg and fellow leading scorers Maodo Lo and Grant Mullins will each be seniors that year, meaning Columbia will still have the same nucleus that propelled the Lions to a 21-13 record last season. Meanwhile Ivy League powerhouse Harvard presumably will have graduated standouts Wesley Saunders, Kenyatta Smith and Steve Mondou-Missi by then, perhaps making the Crimson at least a tad more vulnerable.

Nonetheless, Rosenberg shouldn't have to go to such extremes to be part of that potentially special 2015-16 Columbia season. He should be able to take a medical redshirt year and not have to tear himself from his friends and from his studies for the rest of the school year.

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Jeff Eisenberg is the editor of The Dagger on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!