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NCAA Grants Additional Eligibility

The NCAA Division I Council Coordination Committee voted Monday to grant spring athletes an extra year of eligibility after the coronavirus pandemic shut down spring college sports in 2020.

Of course, winter sports were not included in the extended eligibility, which excludes the possibility of basketball players earning an extra year, per the NCAA.

“Division I rules limit student-athletes to four seasons of competition in a five-year period,” the NCAA wrote in a statement Monday. “The Council’s decision allows schools to self-apply waivers to restore one of those seasons of competition for student-athletes who had competed while eligible in the COVID-19 shortened 2020 spring season.”

Thanks to Iowa track and field Senior Allison Wahrman who created a petition asking the NCAA to grant Seniors another year of eligibility after their seasons came to a sudden halt.

All spring athletes will be able to return to their respective schools in 2020-21, but programs will be forced to offer less (or zero) aid to match what they provided this year. That means that the students in the respective sports will be able to come back to college, enroll another year and will be able to participate in their sport; however, odds are there will not be the scholarship available due to the restrictions placed for the number of scholarships allowed by each individual sport. With no official decision from the NCAA on the scholarship topic earlier in the month, the committee agreed it was appropriate to provide eligibility relief for spring sports and said it would reach an official decision later. The real question is will the NCAA give school the ability to have more scholarships next season to keep the players wanting to come back and finish their season. The question now is how will student-athletes be able to come back for another year? We all know that not all of these students will be able to afford to pay tuition for another year to play again. Will the NCAA grant more scholarships to schools for next season or will these players have to come out of pocket to play next year? Still many questions to be answered by NCAA, but there is still plenty of time to get these issues figured out.

The idea of giving spring sport athletes an extra year of eligibility came with some hurdles of course. Such a proposal would affect roster size limitations and program’s financial situations. Last week, the NCAA announced a massive slashing of revenue distribution to member schools for 2020, a response to lost revenue during the shutdown of sports, including the major cash cow for most Universities that is the NCAA tournament.

Unfortunately for NCAA Basketball seniors this new ruling will not be in their favor. They are not allowed to apply for the extra year of eligibility. After the huge impact on the month of March for all sports junkies with the Men’s and Women’s NCAA basketball tournaments coming to a screeching halt right as the Conference Tournaments were in full stride and teams were booking their tickets to the different NCAA Tournament locations including many teams prep for the NIT Tournament.

  • Financial aid rules were adjusted to allow teams to carry more athletes on scholarship, expanding the limit to include those who return.

  • Schools won’t have to offer the same level of scholarship to returning senior athletes, as they had this season. School can draw on the NCAA’s Student Assistance Fund to help pay for athletes who take advantage of this extra eligibility.

  • An Athlete can come back for another season and transfer to another school. Any Scholarship they’d get at the new school would count against that team’s limit.

On March 20, Division II spring-sport athletes were granted an extra year of eligibility. Good job on Division II to lead the way and do the right thing for these student-athletes. The good things are the NCAA did the correct thing by giving these athletes and ability to finish their seasons in the right way fighting through hopefully without anymore outbreaks to stop them.

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Justin Garrison
Football Sports Writer for Natural State Sports Co-Host of Thursday night live show "The Sports Junkies" along side Steve Hinson