The 5/8 rule, enacted before the 2001/2002 season, for those who don't know, limits college programs from bringing in more than five scholarship players in a single year or eight in any two-year period. It was intended to keep college programs from quick turnover among its scholarship players. College coaches have consistently expressed their displeasure with the rule, often times citing how it has restricted them from using all of the 13 scholarships available to a college basketball program.
The NCAA Management Council and tis Board of Directors votes on the 5/8 in approximately a week. If the NCAA does rescind it, college programs will have no limits on the number of players they can enroll in any year. If 5/8 is lifted, it would probably go into effect this August, which would enable schools to bring in more than five scholarship players for the fall of 2005.
Some coaches said this weekend that there were some NCAA authorities who during the Final Four in San Antonio indicated that the 5/8 rule would almost certainly be rescinded.
What this means for UCLA is that it could take more than five scholarship players next fall. It could, in fact, take both Malik Hairston, the 6-5 McDonald's All-American, and Robert Rothbart, the 7-0 power forward. It would drastically enhance Ben Howland's timetable for turning around the program, not only enabling UCLA to take more players this year, but allowing them to take more in succeeding years. If the 5/8 rule remains, UCLA will also have to leave a scholarship unfilled in the 2005-2006 season.
This is not to say that it's certain the 5/8 rule will be rescinded. But the indication this weekend from various coaches was that there was a very good chanced it would.
It wouldn't be that hard to orchestrate, from a timing standpoint, if UCLA indeed was able to get both Hairston and Rothbart. Rothbart has indicated he's in no hurry to decide. We all know the ever-changing timetable for Malik Hairston's decision. But even if both decided to come to UCLA before the 5/8 vote, Rothbart could easily hold off on deciding until the results of the vote. And he very well naturally might take enough time anyway.
If UCLA were, though, to take two more players in the fall of 2004, it would have to open up two more scholarships. Just speculating, but it is probably something that would happen; given UCLA's opportunity to take two players that could impact the program soon, it would be unlikely UCLA wouldn't have the scholarships to give them. It could happen by itself, too, through transfer. There is also a chance that UCLA could get an open scholarship as a result of Dijon Thompson going pro, but it's believed he'll return for his senior season.
While Brayden Bell, the 6-8 center/forward, told us his GPA was in the 3.5 range, we have some information that leads us to believe it's more in the mid-2 range. It still is probably good enough for him to get qualified academically. A source close to Bell's AAU program said that UCLA indicated over the weekend they'll be trying to get involved with Bell.