5th year of eligibility for fall sports athletes will not reach scholarship limits

As the NCAA’s Division I Board of Directors announced on Friday that it was working towards holding its fall championships in the spring, the organization also announced that it would expand student protections even further. -athletes. The protections come amid growing uncertainty for the NCAA’s fall season amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The NCAA Division I board voted Wednesday to move the fall championships to the spring, and Friday’s vote by the board of directors made that official.

After the Division I Board recommended that student-athletes in fall sports be granted another year of eligibility whether or not they play in the 2020-2021 season, the board approved that student-athlete scholarships taking advantage of it should not count against team limits.

When the NCAA announced plans to grant an additional year of eligibility to all fall sports athletes, there were concerns about the impact this might have on future student-athletes’ ability to earn scholarships.

The new NCAA ruling will allay those concerns, as teams will essentially have additional scholarships for the next four years, in varying degrees per team.

This, however, gives rise to a new concern: on a day when the University of Iowa cuts its men’s swimming and diving program, when this scholarship relief may be a competitive boost for college programs, it also introduces a new cost at a time when colleges are struggling financially.

For example, if every football player at the University of Iowa took advantage of it, it could represent more than $2.5 million in additional scholarships over the next five years. The reality is that not everyone will end up using that extra year, but ultimately it will be an added cost to most athletics departments.

Schools, while not permitted to cancel or reduce scholarships for student-athletes who choose not to participate this season due to COVID-19, are not required to keep those student-athletes for a 5th year of eligibility.

Other coverage recommended by the Board and approved by the Board of Directors:

The board also adopted the Council’s recommended protections for varsity athletes:

  • Schools are prohibited from requiring student-athletes to waive their legal rights regarding COVID-19 as a condition of participation in athletics.
  • Schools are prohibited from canceling or reducing athletic scholarships if a varsity athlete in any sport chooses not to participate due to COVID-19.
  • Student-athletes not enrolling full-time in the Fall 2020 term have flexibility in graduation progression requirements that must be met to be eligible in the future.
  • Financial aid from senior fall sports student-athletes who take advantage of the additional year of eligibility and the extended clock will not count toward team limits in 2021-22.
  • Schools are required to:

Section II

The Division II Presidents’ Council also approved additional COVID-19 protections for athletes, similar to those extended to Division I.

Division II student-athletes will have until October 1 to decide whether or not to participate in the 2020-2021 season and be protected from losing any athletic aid. After October 1, establishments have the choice of whether or not to maintain sports assistance.

The Division II Administrative Committee previously took steps to allow institutions to self-enforce competitive season waivers for student-athletes for the 2020-21 academic year, with three criteria. Student-athletes who withdraw prior to competition this academic year will retain this season’s use. Varsity athletes who retire after competing will still be eligible for the competitive season waiver if all three criteria are met.

The Division II Presidents’ Council also approved these legislative recommendations related to the Board of Governors guidelines:

  • Schools would be prohibited from requiring student-athletes to waive their legal rights regarding COVID-19 as a condition of participating in athletics. The Board of Governors noted a distinction between such a waiver and permitted items such as a commitment document requiring student-athletes to adhere to virus mitigation measures, personal health and safety commitment statements .
  • Allow the following student-athletes who choose not to enroll in the Fall 2020 term to use the missed term exception: A student-athlete in their first academic year in residence and a student-athlete who has previously used the missed term exception once during his college enrollment.
  • Before a student-athlete competes in a Fall 2020 term competition, schools must:

Section III

Meanwhile, the Division III Administrative Committee has issued a non-binding recommendation that member schools not compete for the entire fall semester to avoid increased pandemic-related health and safety risks. of coronavirus.

Much of Division III, including essentially all of the top swimming and diving programs, has already announced plans not to compete until the fall semester, at the earliest.

“Any competition this term in the current environment will increase the health and safety risks not only to our student-athletes, but also to coaches, staff and campus communities,” said Council Chair Tori Murden McClure. presidents and president of Spalding. “We are also concerned about the potential health care cost exposure for member institutions if a student-athlete contracts COVID-19 through athletic activities. Today’s action will help ensure that member schools and student-athletes make an informed decision regarding these matters.

The Administrative Committee also acted on two other relevant directives from the Board of Governors:

  • The committee passed uncontroversial legislation, effective immediately, that institutions cannot require student-athletes to waive their legal rights regarding COVID-19 as a condition of participating in athletics.
  • He also clarified that, for the 2020-2021 academic year, all registered full-time student-athletes who withdraw (i.e. the student-athlete decides not to participate in any activity during or after the first competition) would obtain two -half-year extension/three-quarters.

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