NCAA Sports

NCAA Grants Extra Eligibility for Spring Athletes; Excludes Winter Sports


WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 03:  The NCAA logo on the floor during a Atlantic 10 Women's Basketball Tournament - First Round college basketball game between the Richmond Spiders and the George Washington Colonials at the Smith Center on March 3, 2020 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

The NCAA Division I Council announced Monday it will allow D-I spring-sport student-athletes whose seasons were canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic an extra year of eligibility. 

For returning student-athletes who would have exhausted their eligibility in 2020, schools will have the option to offer the same or a lower amount of aid a student-athlete received this year, including dropping the aid to zero.

The council also announced that student-athletes in winter sports will not be given an extra year of eligibility.

Auerbach provided scenarios for the NCAA’s decision on spring-sport athletes in a March 28 piece for The Athletic:

“In Option B, a school might tell one scholarship track athlete it could bring her back for her final season but only pay for room and board. Another track athlete might get offered a quarter of a grant instead of the half-grant she previously received. Individual athletes could and would get different amounts.

“This option would set up some very difficult decisions for individuals to make. A lot of spring-sport athletes already only receive partial scholarships and would have to weigh paying to play another year anyway — and potentially paying more than they have been.

The NCAA D-I Council approved the blanket waiver option.

In light of the decision, Auerbach reported that NCAA has allowed extra scholarship allotments to account for any returning players in addition to incoming student-athletes.

The D-I news comes 10 days after the NCAA Division II Administrative Committee also voted to give spring-sport student-athletes an extra year of eligibility.

The biggest point of contention may be the NCAA’s decision to not grant winter-sport student-athletes an extra year of eligibility.

Numerous athletes’ seasons had not finished when play across the NCAA halted on Thursday, March 12.

Of note, college basketball and hockey were still in the midst of conference tournament action, so many seniors looking for one last shot at national championship glory will not get that opportunity.

On the other end, many winter-sports athletes’ seasons had finished, or at the very least were on the precipice of being 100 percent complete.

Josh Rowntree of KDKA-FM acknowledged the situation for seniors unable to properly complete their collegiate careers but wondered about the logistics:

Old Dominion assistant wrestling coach Kevin Beazley expressed his disappointment:

Regardless of one’s opinion on the topic, it’s worth watching to see how schools decide on aid for spring-sport athletes affected by the cancellation of the 2020 season.

“It’s going to be expensive, but I think it’s worth it,” LSU Athletic Director Scott Woodward said (h/t Wilson Alexander of the Advocate). “I think it’s worth our student-athletes having another opportunity if they want that.”

For now, all eyes turn toward combating the spread of COVID-19. Per the World Health Organization, at least 697,244 people worldwide have confirmed COVID-19 cases, and at least 33,257 people have died as of Monday afternoon.

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