The Columbia Spectator reported earlier today that 2013-14 first-team All-Ivy forward Alex Rosenberg has withdrawn from school and will not compete on the men’s basketball team in 2014-15.
Rosenberg fractured his foot in practice on Oct. 24 and was expected to be sidelined for six to eight weeks, meaning he was likely to miss Columbia’s nonconference slate altogether. Instead, he chose to withdraw from the school because the Ivy League does not permit medical redshirts. Ivy athletes are tasked with using their four years of eligibility in their first four years as enrolled full-time students. Fifth-year waivers do exist for Ivy athletes, but they are rare since they require athletes who apply for the waiver to prove that a fifth year of eligibility is triggered by academic and career concerns rather than athletic endeavors.
So here’s the skinny: 2015-16 is shaping up to be Columbia’s year. Harvard will be substantially weaker, Javier Duren will be gone for Yale and Maodo Lo will still be around for the Lions. Pairing Rosenberg and Lo together as seniors in a wide-open Ivy field will be excellent for Kyle Smith’s program, especially as a relatively young roster around them benefits from another year of experience. A year from now, Columbia will be loaded.
But in the meantime, this isn’t good for Rosenberg, the student-athlete. If the “student” component of that word really is supposed to come first, then Rosenberg shouldn’t have to be doing what he’s doing here, which is dropping out of school mid-semester for what is clearly a basketball-motivated decision. He’ll have to apply for readmission and won’t even be allowed to attend games or official team functions as a member of the program. It’s as if, for one season he won’t exist … until he does again. Instead of being able to apply for a fifth year through an injury redshirt if he couldn’t return for a significant enough number of games, he has to just, well, go away and have both his student life and synchronicity with his basketball program interrupted. Whether Rosenberg is able to snag a lucrative internship while he’s away is irrelevant. He shouldn’t have to be torn from his classmates and teammates to give himself the fullest opportunity to do what he enrolled at Columbia to do – play basketball.
Don’t blame Rosenberg for stepping away, blame the archaic Ivy League ban on medical redshirts, that made this the only realistic option for him, just as it was for Harvard’s Kyle Casey and Brandyn Curry two years ago. Like it or not, this will keep happening until the league does something about it.