"No, he's not playing this year. He's a red shirt."
A college athlete
in the NCAA
is given 5 years from the time of enrollment
to participate in 4 competitive seasons of any and all of the athletic programs available at the school. So as soon as you start school, you're burning
your time. Some people choose not to compete during their first year, in order to gain experience
before beginning their 4 years of real competition
. These individuals are commonly referred to as "red shirt freshmen".
The red shirt rule was ostensibly
written to provide for a year of recovery time, should an athlete sustain injuries which preclude competition in his/her sport.