NCAA Grants Clemson's Spring Student-Athletes Extra Year of Eligibility

Brad Senkiw

Clemson student-athletes involved in spring sports programs got a piece of good news during a difficult time Monday.

In an unprecedented move, the NCAA Division I Council approved a waiver that will allow those participating in spring sports to get an extra year of eligibility.

“The Council’s decision gives individual schools the flexibility to make decisions at a campus level,” Council chair M. Grace Calhoun, athletics director at Penn said. “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.”

Student-athletes, including seniors, essentially get an extra year added to their five-year clock, and financial aid rules were adjusted to account for expanded scholarship.

Schools can use the NCAA’s Student Assistance Fund to pay for scholarships for students who take advantage of the additional eligibility flexibility in 2020-21.

This will affect Clemson’s baseball, softball, track & field, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s tennis and rowing teams.

Every conference canceled spring sports earlier this month as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unfortunately, student-athletes who competed in winter sports, like basketball, won’t get their year back, the NCAA ruled, because many teams had already completed their seasons.

Many spring players were concerned it wasn’t going to happen for those who saw half or more of their seasons cut short. The

The NCAA’s decision came on the heels of the Student Advisory Committee’s unified statement earlier Monday on emergency relief.

This won’t present a massive effect, though, for Clemson’s spring programs, but several key seniors saw their playing careers extended.

Baseball coach Monte Lee has just two seniors on his roster: pitchers Carson Spiers and Sheldon Reed. Spiers is one of the better closers in the ACC and could be a draft candidate anyway. Reed suffered an arm injury early in the season that was expected to keep him out until at least well into May.

However, many juniors who were facing an uncertain MLB amateur draft now have more options. 

Clemson’s inaugural softball team has just two seniors, both grad transfers. MK Bonamy transferred from Notre Dame while Ansley Gilstrap, who played at USC Upstate, suffered an injury before the season, and now she won't have to apply for a medical redshirt. 

William Nottingham is the lone senior on the men’s golf team while Ana Paula Valdes is the only senior for women’s golf.

Men’s and women’s tennis both have three seniors each.

Eight of the 35 members of the men’s track & field team are seniors.

Seven of the 45 members of the women’s track & field team are seniors.

Rowing, which carries a large roster, has double-digit seniors.