The NCAA Division I Council coordination committee voted Monday to allow all spring-sport athletes an extra year of eligibility.
Each school will be allowed to offer scholarship money equal to or less than the 2019-20 season — including none — on a player-by-player basis for student-athletes who would have exhausted eligibility this season, the NCAA said in a release. Schools will be able to use the NCAA’s Student Assistance Fund to pay for excess scholarship needs.
“When the COVID-19 chain of events unfolded so quickly, my first priority was to do as much as possible to take care of student-athletes impacted by this unprecedented set of events,” Texas A&M athletic director Ross Bjork told The Eagle. “I am very pleased to see the NCAA Division I Council act so quickly and efficiently for the benefit of student-athletes, granting each university the flexibility to determine what is best. From here, we will work with our administration and coaches in determining the best course of action for our student-athletes while analyzing how these decisions will impact our program for 2020-21 and beyond.”
Baseball, the only affected sport with a roster limit, will be allowed to have more than the alloted 35 players to adjust for the influx of student-athletes.
“I’m certainly excited for all spring-sport athletes,” A&M baseball coach Rob Childress said. “They’ve got another year of eligibility given to them and just very thankful that the NCAA did the right thing by the student-athlete.”
Financial aid rules also will be adjusted to account for the changes due to eligibility relief.
Winter-sport athletes are not included in the eligibility relief, according to the release.
Prior to Monday’s vote, Division I rules stated that student-athletes must complete four seasons of play within a five-year eligibility period. Now, schools will be able to self-apply waivers for an extra season for all spring-sport athletes, including adding a year to those who had reached the end of their five-year clock.
“The Council’s decision gives individual schools the flexibility to make decisions at a campus level,” said Council chair M. Grace Calhoun, athletic director at Penn. “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 news was first reported by Nicole Auerbach of The Athletic.
On March 13, the committee initially announced that eligibility relief was appropriate, after spring-sport NCAA championships were canceled due to the rapid spread of COVID-19 worldwide.
Prior to the Division I ruling Monday, Division II and Division III spring-sport were granted eligibility relief.
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