As COVID-19 cuts short athletic seasons at colleges across the country, the Division I Council of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) announced yesterday that it will allow spring sports student athletes an additional season of competition and an extension of their period of eligibility.
The council said it would not extend an extra year of eligibility to participants in winter sports, which includes men’s and women’s basketball as well as ice hockey for both men and women, reported NBC Sports.
The council also adjusted financial aid rules to allow teams to carry more members on scholarship to account for incoming recruits and student-athletes who had been in their last year of eligibility who decide to stay.
In light of the financial uncertainty faced by higher education due to the pandemic, the Council vote provided schools with the flexibility to give students the opportunity to return for 2020-21 without requiring that athletics aid be provided at the same level awarded for 2019-20. This flexibility applies just to student-athletes who would have exhausted eligibility in 2019-20.
That said, schools will have the ability to use the NCAA’s Student Assistance Fund to pay for scholarships for students who take advantage of the additional eligibility flexibility in 2020-21.
“The Council’s decision gives individual schools the flexibility to make decisions at a campus level,” said council chair M. Grace Calhoun, athletics director at the University of Pennsylvania. “The Board of Governors encouraged conferences and schools to take action in the best interest of student-athletes and their communities, and now schools have the opportunity to do that.”
The council also increased the student roster limit in baseball, the only spring sport with such a limit, to account for student athletes impacted by the pandemic.