Extra Year Of Eligibility Brings More Questions Than Answers

The NCAA's decision to grant fall athletes a free year of eligibility was well received as the right thing to do. However, the right thing isn't always easy and the decision could come with some unintended consequences that have yet to be addressed.
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On the surface, the NCAA's decision to grant an extra year of eligibility to players whether or not they play in the 2020 season is the right thing to do. However, right thing or not, the decision brings with it a multitude of issues that have yet to be addressed. 

Some of the first things that come to mind are how will teams go about managing their rosters, how are the scholarship limits handled, and last but not least, where the money comes from to pay for that extra year.

It is just one more thing head coaches will find themselves dealing with in the coming years as they try and sort it out while waiting on answers.

"It's definitely going to be challenging moving forward on how it's all going to shake out," Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said on Wednesday. "But it's the right thing to do for these players, all across the country. So, you know, we'll figure out all the complexities of it later on."

One of the most pressing issues might not be seen for a couple of years. While happy with the decision, Swinney has no idea how he will be managing his roster in the coming seasons. 

"There's still a lot of questions, a lot of unknowns, as far as how we will manage it on the back-end, how things are going to count, mid-years and all that," Swinney said. "There's a lot of questions but at the end of the day, it was the right decision."

While there are some obvious issues, in the short-term it's a decision that could be beneficial for many players across the country. One, in particular, is junior defensive end Xavier Thomas.

The Tigers originally had planned to redshirt Thomas with the idea of playing him in four games on the back-end of the season. With the free year, the Tigers can now get him on the field as soon as he is physically ready.  

"We knew he was going to be ready, and he's actually doing well," Swinney said regarding Thomas. "But we knew he would be ready here at some point. He's working back into practice, but our plan was to try to hold him and get him ready for the latter part of the season. Now we don't have to worry about that. So yeah, he can get back into play whenever he's ready to go. He can play five games, seven games, eight games, that doesn't matter."

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