Why Alex Rosenberg’s injury is good for Columbia’s future … and bad for his own

The Columbia Spectator reported earlier today that 2013-14 first-team All-Ivy forward Alex Rosenberg has withdrawn from school and will not compete on the men’s basketball team in 2014-15.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.

5 thoughts on “Why Alex Rosenberg’s injury is good for Columbia’s future … and bad for his own”

  1. Enough whining about Ivy rules. The big question is how does this effect Penn.


    I now find this a riduculous perversion of NCAA standards. The AQ is now on the case. I’ve got My People on the phone with Robin Harris.

    Not so fast Mr. Rosenberg…..

  2. While the league doesn’t call them redshirts, it does permit a fifth year for “medical hardship,” provided the student can offer some academic reason for needing the extra time. My experience (just as an observer) is that those academic reasons aren’t challenged too hard; you just can’t graduate. The problem is that you are asking most of the families to pay for a fifth year of tuition. For instance, the common story was that Errick Peck was granted a medical hardship, but the FA package was too steep, so he played his fifth year at Purdue for free.

    And please do not lump Rosenberg in with Curry and Casey. Alex has a valid medical reason to miss the season that would be recognized at any NCAA school. Amaker’s boys were exploiting the rules.

  3. I am having a tough time figuring out the issue here. Surely you are not suggesting that reapplying for admission to school raises a hardship. Not being an “official” member of the program is unfortunate, but not something to get your undies in a bunch over. The cost of the 5th year to the family with means is actually 4 years + whatever is spent up to the time of withdrawal. Nothing to ignore but hardly a massive policy failure on the part of the League. Most recently at Princeton, Will Barrett got another year after an unfortunate injury even after he had played in several games. The academic hurdle was not an issue at all, nor will it be Rosenberg. The Harvard situation has no relevance to, or place in, this discussion. All fans of our League, regardless of personal preferences, must be saddened by this terrible blow to the Lions. I hope they can rise above it to go 12-2!

  4. I only mentioned Brandyn Curry and Kyle Casey’s gaming the system as another example of this loophole being used, albeit under much shadier circumstances. The point is this loophole can be exploited for both reasonable and unethical reasons alike, as we’ve now seen. While the academic hurdle will only be a formality, it’s still an onerous, unnecessary process that separates a player from his rightful place on a team because the league forces student-athletes to decide, in most cases, to decide on their status for an upcoming season one way or another before even playing.


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