The decision did not cover winter sports, like basketball and gymnastics, which had postseason events disrupted by the coronavirus outbreak.
March 30, 2020
The N.C.A.A. Division I Council voted on Monday to open the door to another year of eligibility for all spring-sport athletes, whose seasons were cut short by the coronavirus outbreak.
But whether an athlete is able to return will largely depend on the decisions by universities, which will determine how much scholarship aid to offer and whether to apply for an individual to receive an N.C.A.A. waiver allowing an additional season.
For example, a college could allow an athlete’s eligibility to be restored on the condition that the athlete pay some or all of the cost of attendance.
The additional season applies to sports like baseball, softball, golf, tennis, lacrosse, track and field, beach volleyball and rowing. Those sports were shut down on March 12, the same day the N.C.A.A. ended postseason tournaments in winter sports — like men’s and women’s basketball, wrestling and gymnastics. The winter athletes will not be allowed to claim extra eligibility.
Scholarship restrictions will be eased to permit schools to cover returning seniors while accommodating incoming freshmen and transfers. Baseball rosters, for instance, are restricted to 35 players, but any senior who returns will not be counted against that limit.
“It’s a good day for college baseball, big picture,” said Edwin Thompson, the baseball coach at Eastern Kentucky University. “The logistics, we’ll figure it out. The important thing is at least the kids have an opportunity — that’s all you can ask in life. What they do with it is on them.”
The plan approved by the 40-person council was partly influenced by financial pressures that athletic departments could be facing, particularly if football is affected by the coronavirus this fall. The council is composed largely of athletic directors and conference commissioners, but it also includes several student-athletes and academics.
A sign of the financial squeeze on athletic departments surfaced last week when the N.C.A.A. announced that men’s basketball tournament revenues that are distributed to conferences would be reduced by nearly two-thirds, to $225 million.
Rather than laying out detailed rules on how universities should proceed in bringing back senior athletes, the council left the decision to the conferences and their colleges. Some universities will find it harder than others to pick up additional scholarship costs for returning seniors.
“In our world, those are dollars we don’t have,” said Andy Fee, the athletic director at Long Beach State, warning that some colleges might drop certain sports. “I caution people that think they’re going to put Humpty Dumpty back together again that there are heavy conversations down the road. I think it’s going to be happening across the country.”
One conference in which athletes might not benefit is the Ivy League, which does not allow graduate students to play sports and has stringent requirements for granting redshirt years. The league said in a statement that it supported the N.C.A.A.’s proposal and that it was “considering the implications of the decision.”
The Coronavirus Outbreak ›
Frequently Asked Questions
Updated July 23, 2020
What is school going to look like in September?
- It is unlikely that many schools will return to a normal schedule this fall, requiring the grind of online learning, makeshift child care and stunted workdays to continue. California’s two largest public school districts — Los Angeles and San Diego — said on July 13, that instruction will be remote-only in the fall, citing concerns that surging coronavirus infections in their areas pose too dire a risk for students and teachers. Together, the two districts enroll some 825,000 students. They are the largest in the country so far to abandon plans for even a partial physical return to classrooms when they reopen in August. For other districts, the solution won’t be an all-or-nothing approach. Many systems, including the nation’s largest, New York City, are devising hybrid plans that involve spending some days in classrooms and other days online. There’s no national policy on this yet, so check with your municipal school system regularly to see what is happening in your community.
Is the coronavirus airborne?
- The coronavirus can stay aloft for hours in tiny droplets in stagnant air, infecting people as they inhale, mounting scientific evidence suggests. This risk is highest in crowded indoor spaces with poor ventilation, and may help explain super-spreading events reported in meatpacking plants, churches and restaurants. It’s unclear how often the virus is spread via these tiny droplets, or aerosols, compared with larger droplets that are expelled when a sick person coughs or sneezes, or transmitted through contact with contaminated surfaces, said Linsey Marr, an aerosol expert at Virginia Tech. Aerosols are released even when a person without symptoms exhales, talks or sings, according to Dr. Marr and more than 200 other experts, who have outlined the evidence in an open letter to the World Health Organization.
What are the symptoms of coronavirus?
- Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.
What’s the best material for a mask?
Does asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 happen?
- So far, the evidence seems to show it does. A widely cited paper published in April suggests that people are most infectious about two days before the onset of coronavirus symptoms and estimated that 44 percent of new infections were a result of transmission from people who were not yet showing symptoms. Recently, a top expert at the World Health Organization stated that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was “very rare,” but she later walked back that statement.
At least one of the league’s senior athletes has already decided not to pursue an extra year. Molly Milligan, a rower at Princeton, plans to be a graduate assistant coach at the University of Wisconsin, where she will begin work on a master’s degree this fall.
“I thought about it for a hot second,” Milligan said of returning. “But the trauma of the past two weeks was really challenging to deal with. It’s hard now going back to change that mind-set to, ‘Oh, I might be able to compete.’”
For others, the calculation may be strictly financial.
Unlike many of their counterparts in football and basketball, spring athletes tend not to receive full scholarships. Baseball teams, for example, each have 11.7 scholarships that coaches can distribute among as many as 27 players, excluding walk-on roster spots. Softball has 12 scholarships to divide among a maximum of 25 players. Men’s volleyball has four and a half scholarships.
“There’s going to be some tough discussions,” Fee said. “A coach is going to say, ‘I appreciate what you did, but we don’t have a scholarship for you.’”
The toughest conversations, though, may be with incoming freshmen. They will suddenly be joining rosters more crowded than expected, delaying their chances to take over positions.