Five GVSU seniors sit out to comply with NCAA eligibility rules

GVL / Kevin Sielaff -  Alton Voss (4) brings down an Ashland offensive attack.  Grand Valley defeats Ashland with a final score of 45-28 Nov. 22 at Ashland University.

Kevin Sielaff

GVL / Kevin Sielaff – Alton Voss (4) brings down an Ashland offensive attack. Grand Valley defeats Ashland with a final score of 45-28 Nov. 22 at Ashland University.

Beau Troutman

Grand Valley State football concluded spring practice at the 2016 Spring Classic on April 16, but some players were forced to watch from the sidelines.

Five GVSU football players—defensive back Marquez Gollman, center Aaron Cox, defensive linemen Alton Voss, De’Ondre Hogan and Sonny Haskins—all sat out the spring semester due to an NCAA rule known as the 10-semester rule.

According to the NCAA’s official website, the rule stipulates that Division II athletes are allowed just 10 semesters of athletic competition eligibility. In Division I, athletes are given five years to use four years of eligibility, whereas in Division II, athletes have four years to complete four years of eligibility.

“Typically when we have them sit out this last semester, they’re in their last year of eligibility,” said GVSU head coach Matt Mitchell. “Consequently, they’ve been in the program for quite a bit, they’ve played a lot of reps. Especially last year, we played 15-16 games, so it’s not a huge deal. I’d rather give up this semester and have them around in the fall than vice versa.”

Often, players who redshirt for their first season for developmental reasons end up dealing with the rule toward the end of their GVSU football career.

All five players are seniors, and all five redshirted at some point in their careers. Heading into the 2016 spring semester, all five had already hit nine semesters. By sitting out the spring, they will use their 10th and final semester in the upcoming fall semester.

During the spring, the players can be around the team and observe, but can’t participate in any way. This means no lifting, running or anything considered GVSU football-related activity. Additionally, money from the players’ football scholarships can’t be used during the spring semester.

“They’re completely on their own,” Mitchell said. “Even if they take classes, we can’t finance from a scholarship standpoint.”

During their downtime, some players are taking classes, some are working and others are training for the season.

Gollman, who redshirted in 2012 after tearing the meniscus in his left knee, took the semester off and is currently training to be ready for his senior season, as well as fine-tuning his Madden NFL ’16 skills, a game in which he says he is always “welcoming any challengers.” Gollman plans on taking summer classes that he’ll have to finance himself.

While he admits missing the camaraderie and team environment, he says the break has been a welcome change of pace, especially after the grind of last season.

“It can play both ways,” Gollman said. “You know, being in the group with my teammates, having that chemistry on the field, but then again, it can’t hurt also by not playing. My body feels perfectly fine right now.”

Though Voss welcomed the break as well, he said he already has the itch to get back on the gridiron. Voss is currently taking three classes, training at a facility in Grand Rapids and putting in 15-20 hours a week at Shoreline Container & Packaging, a factory in Zeeland, Michigan.

Voss, who cheered the team on from the sidelines at the spring game, admits the factory life isn’t quite as much fun as football, and said he’s ready for the break to be over.

“It is tough,” Voss said. “I’m the type of person who enjoys working out, getting better each day, so I’m doing as much as I can on my end when I don’t have to show up for spring ball, and I don’t have pads to put on. Those are days that are going by that I’m not really getting better, and the rest of my teammates are.

“That competitive side to me wishes I was out there competing against them.”

The wait will be over for Voss, Gollman, and the other three Lakers on August 10, when returning players are scheduled to report for fall camp. The Lakers begin the season at home against Tiffin on September 1.