NCAA Division I Council Recommends Fall Sports Athletes Receive Additional Year of Eligibility

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The NCAA Division I board recommended Wednesday that all fall sports athletes, regardless of how many games they play this college year, receive an additional season of eligibility. The NCAA Board of Directors must approve the recommendation before it becomes effective.

The board has previously agreed that athletes who have withdrawn or whose season has been cut short or canceled due to the novel coronavirus pandemic will receive an extension to their eligibility clock and an additional season of eligibility if they competed. at 50% or less of the NCAA maximum number. games in their given sport. The board, which includes athletic directors and other administrators, said in its statement that “greater flexibility is warranted” and that all fall sports athletes should benefit from the relief.

Typically, athletes have five years to complete four qualifying seasons. The board also recommended that athletes have an additional year to complete their eligibility.

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If the board approves this recommendation, seniors who play in the 2020 season, or in a winter version of the season for conferences that have been postponed, could play another season in 2021. Athletes who return for an additional season during of the 2021-22 season the school year would not count towards the team’s scholarship limits.

The Division I Board made a similar decision for spring sports athletes whose seasons were cut short by the coronavirus. For those athletes, the NCAA granted schools the ability to self-enforce the waiver for additional eligibility, meaning schools could choose whether athletes could return. Some universities have not allowed any athletes to take advantage of eligibility relief, usually citing financial concerns.

The board also recommended that all Division I fall championships be moved to the spring “if they can be conducted safely and in accordance with federal, state and local health guidelines,” the statement said. The NCAA canceled those championship events last week. Many conferences had already postponed fall sports, and the board of governors required at least 50% of schools to participate in a season for a championship to take place.

Six conferences — the SEC, ACC, Big 12, Sun Belt, American Athletic Conference and Conference USA — still plan to play fall sports. Although the NCAA does not control the college football playoffs, championships in all other fall sports will not take place as scheduled. The board statement says the Division I Oversight Committees are working to develop templates for these fall championships held in the spring.

“We continue to be committed to providing opportunities whenever possible,” said Grace Calhoun, Division I Board Chair and Athletic Director for the University of Pennsylvania, in a statement. “We know how much our student-athletes value these championship opportunities and we will continue to be as flexible as possible in sponsoring them.”

The board has adopted the Football Oversight Committee’s recommendation to allow a hybrid training model for teams planning to play in winter or spring. These programs will be entitled to 12 hours of athletic activity per week, with five hours of non-contact, on-court work and seven hours of strength, conditioning and meetings. These limits begin on Monday and end on October 4. The committee will later determine how many football players can work out and train for the remainder of the fall semester.

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