MANILA, Philippines – The UAAP is going to make some adjustments to its juniors division due to the K-12 education system, with the eligibility period set to become five years instead of four.
"One of the changes is, gagawing five playing years sa juniors division. Now it's four, and we want it five," said Ateneo de Manila University's Em Fernandez, who heads the UAAP amendments committee.
"To make it five (playing years), we'll start playing at Grade 8," he further explained. "So we’re saying that if you’re (in) Grade 8, then you can play"
"(You can play in grades) 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12, so five years. That's the idea," he added.
Fernandez said they were hoping to implement the change this year. "But of course, it's still a transition (period)," he said.
Implementation of the K-12 program, which will require students to study for two more years before going to college, began in 2011. Colleges will feel the new program's effect in 2016 and 2017, when there is expected to be a dearth of new college freshmen.
UAAP Season 77 secretary treasurer Rod Roque of the University of the East acknowledged that this will become a problem, especially in terms of recruitment. But he noted that schools can find ways to address the issue.
For example, UE is already collecting recruits from all over the country as early as now, Roque said.
"Ito 'yung last year na may fourth year high school, so nag-recruit na kami ngayon," he told ABS-CBNnews.com. "Sa school namin, UE, grabe ‘yung recruits namin, ang dami."
Roque believes that the other UAAP schools may be collecting recruits as well.
"I think so, I think so," he said. "Kami, that's what we're doing. I know 'yun din ang ginagawa nila, kasi 'yun din ang magiging dilemma namin pagdating ng full implementation."
Fernandez, for his part, doesn’t think the 2016-2017 period will be that big of a problem, noting that there are other ways for schools to get athletes even if there will be no incoming freshmen.
"You can look at transferees, that's another option," he pointed out. "You won't run out of players. It gives more opportunities for existing athletes."
Another option is for high school athletes to play in the seniors division, something that Fernandez said was allowed in the 1970s.
"It hasn't been discussed thoroughly, but I do remember looking at old eligibility forms in the late '70s. It was allowed that high school athletes to play in the senior leagues, but counted as a playing year na, and you cannot play in high school anymore," he said.
"Once you start playing in the seniors, you’re not eligible to play in the juniors," he added. "And if you transfer schools, magre-residency ka."
"I'm not saying that (it will be done). I just saw it in the old rules that it was done before, (and) it can be considered," he added.