NCAA grants additional year of eligibility for fall sports athletes, addresses scholarships in light of COVID-19 – Orange County Register
One of the most baffling questions surrounding this unusual college sports season was finally resolved by the NCAA on Friday.
All student-athletes in fall sports will be granted an additional year of eligibility, the NCAA Board of Governors announced Friday. The year of eligibility will apply to athletes whether or not they participate in their sports in the 2020-21 calendar year, but the NCAA has prohibited schools from canceling or reducing scholarships if a student -athlete withdraws from a season due to COVID-19.
The board also approved a waiver for seniors who decide to return for the 2021-22 season so they don’t count against scholarship limits, and announced it was working on the organization. fall championships for sports other than spring football.
These decisions dispel much of the uncertainty that has surrounded the fall sports season, especially since conferences like the Pac-12 have opted to postpone all sports until the spring.
In a typical football season, athletes can play four games without burning a year of eligibility. There was speculation that if this pandemic-hit season went downhill quickly for a team, that team could see a surge of players opting for the redshirt rather than losing a year of eligibility under the current circumstances.
Another concern for teams playing in the spring was that players might decide to opt out and keep the eligibility year for a more typical fall season.
But with the additional year of eligibility given to fall student-athletes whether or not they play in 2020-21, it allows players to compete without fear of harming their overall college career.
The general year of eligibility, however, could have created a situation where teams found themselves in a purse crisis, trying to figure out how to keep players on the roster while adding a typical recruiting class to the team.
But with the decision to allow current seniors to not count toward the scholarship limit in the next college year, teams can still sign their full rookie allocation without repercussion.
As with the NCAA’s decision to allow schools to grant spring athletes an additional year of eligibility, it will be up to the school whether or not to honor the full amount of the scholarship.
Several questions still remain, especially for football in the Pac-12. What will the spring season look like? How many games will there be? When will it take place? Will the NFL move its draft to accommodate spring seasons?
That last question has already impacted USC, as its first-team All-Pac-12 defensive tackle Jay Tufele opted to forgo the rest of his college career and declare himself for the draft this week.
But for now, there is more clarity and some temporary common-sense rule changes to ensure the pandemic doesn’t have more of an effect on student-athletes than it already has. The NCAA is also prohibiting schools from requiring student-athletes to sign coronavirus liability waivers as a condition of participation this year.
“We want to provide opportunities for student-athletes whenever possible,” Texas State President Denise Trauth, acting chair of the board of governors, said in a statement. “We understand it will be complicated and different, and we don’t know what it will look like. But we think it’s important to try to give students that championship experience.