Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez on walk-on scholarship rule: 'It's a joke'

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Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez criticized an NCAA rule involving walk-ons and scholarship limits, according to the Arizona Daily Star.

A team is allowed to have 85 players on scholarship, but only 25 in each recruiting class.

If a walk-on who has been in the program for less than two seasons is awarded a scholarship, it counts against the class and overall limits. If he has been in the program for more than two seasons, it counts only against the overall limit.

Rodriguez expressed frustration over Jake Matthews, a sophomore walk-on linebacker from Tuscon, Ariz. who appeared in eight games last season and has played well enough to earn a scholarship, according to theStar.

“If a guy walked on for a year, you should be able to give him a scholarship and it not count against the initial number,” said Rodriguez, who began his college career as a walk-on at West Virginia. “It’s ridiculous — the NCAA and all its infinite wisdom of being out for the welfare for the student-athlete. If a guy pays his own way for a year, and he’s a walk-on, you should be able to give him a scholarship in his second year.”

Former Ironwood Ridge High School linebacker Jake Matthews is the perfect case study. Matthews played in eight games last year on special teams and as a reserve at linebacker.

He has made enough progress and has shown enough talent to earn a scholarship. But if the Wildcats gave him a scholarship before the season starts, it would count against the UA’s 2015 recruiting class.

“It’s a joke,” Rodriguez said. “Jake Matthews is earning a scholarship right now. But because of the silly rules by the NCAA, we have to get a waiver for it or something. I’m talking as a former walk-on who was able to get (a scholarship) my second year. I don’t know who is making that decision.”

More: His innovative offense now the norm, Rich Rodriguez must keep evolving

This is not the first time Rodriguez, who was found to have broken NCAA rules during his three-year tenure at Michigan, has spoken out against the college governing body. 

Arizona has compiled a 16-10 record in two seasons under Rodriguez. The Wildcats open the 2014 season Aug. 29 against UNLV.

- Chris Johnson