NCAA allows winter sports athletes an additional season of eligibility

With the virus still spreading across the country, teams could face postponements or cancellations during their seasons. Some athletes might also want to withdraw given the risks of contracting the virus while participating in training and competitions.

“The pandemic will continue to impact winter sports seasons in ways we cannot predict. Council members have chosen to offer student-athletes in winter sports the same flexibility that spring and fall sports have before,” said Division I Council Chair and Director of sports from the University of Pennsylvania, in a press release. “Today’s actions ensure the continuation of local decision-making in the best interest of each institution and its student-athletes.”

Winter sports include basketball, gymnastics, swimming and diving, indoor track and field, ice hockey and wrestling. The NCAA delayed the start of the men’s and women’s college basketball seasons by two weeks, with games scheduled to start Nov. 25.

The board has already waived eligibility for spring sports athletes whose seasons have been cut short due to the pandemic, as well as for fall sports athletes. Some conferences are playing fall sports as scheduled and others have postponed to the spring, but regardless of the circumstances, that year will not count toward an athlete’s eligibility.

Many winter sports athletes missed the playoffs in their 2019-20 campaigns but received no eligibility waivers, with the council noting that these athletes have had the opportunity to compete for almost all of their seasons. The NCAA canceled all championship events, including the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, on March 12, abruptly ending the seasons and careers of many athletes.

Eligibility relief is seen as a fair solution for athletes whose seasons have been affected by the pandemic, but it is complex and presents logistical challenges. Schools enforce this waiver of eligibility themselves, meaning they can choose whether athletes are allowed into the extra season. Some athletic departments won’t be able to afford the cost of doing so, especially given the revenue shortfalls caused by the pandemic.

For fall sports, seniors returning for an additional season during the 2021-22 academic year will not count toward the team’s scholarship limit. However, in subsequent years, schools cannot exceed the limit, although team athletes would still be entitled to additional eligibility. In these cases, if schools choose to let athletes use their extra season of eligibility, it remove this scholarship from incoming recruits. The Division I Board’s announcement did not say whether those same rules would apply to winter sports.

In virtual meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Division I Board also proposed that all athletes be allowed to transfer and compete immediately. Under current rules, undergraduate athletes must sit out one season after transfer, unless they receive a waiver from the NCAA. This legislation would represent a change in the college sports landscape, giving athletes more rights and freedom.

The proposal gives the board the ability to require athletes to notify their school of their intention to transfer by a certain deadline – May 1 for fall and winter sports and July 1 for summer sports. spring. The board plans to vote on this proposal in January.

“This proposal creates a consistent and equitable approach for all student-athletes, regardless of the sport they play,” said Jon Steinbrecher, commissioner of the Mid-American Conference and chair of the NCAA’s Task Force on transfers, in a press release. “We believe the proposal delivers on the promise of the transfer resolution passed by the Board in the spring, and we hope members will strongly consider bringing consistency and predictability to Division I transfer regulations while treating student-athletes of all sports in the same way and in a sensible way. .”

The Division I Board also waived bowling eligibility requirements for the 2020 football season. As a general rule, teams must have a .500 record to qualify for a game of bowling. All programs in the Football Bowl subdivision will now be eligible.

“Consistent with Division I members’ desire to provide maximum flexibility during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Board has voted to allow as many student-athletes as possible to participate in bowl games this year. “Calhoun said in a statement. “The ruling also provides some certainty for schools and coaches as we head into the playoffs.”

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