NCAA: Spring Student-Athletes Granted Extra Year of Eligibility

Zach Goodall

Due to the cancellation of spring-sport activities across all college sports, the NCAA has granted a waiver to allow spring sports student-athletes an extra year of eligibility.

"The Division I Council on Monday voted to allow schools to provide spring-sport student-athletes an additional season of competition and an extension of their period of eligibility," the NCAA released in a statement.

This decision comes amidst the novel coronavirus outbreak, which halted all spring sports seasons as well as winter sports postseason and any remaining competition for the 2019-2020 school year. As well known, the NCAA typically grants student-athletes four seasons of eligibility in a five-year period, but drastic times call for drastic measures.

Winter sports athletes, however, will not be granted additional eligibility, therefore any seniors (sans graduate transfers or those with a medical redshirt) will not be allowed to return for another season.

"Winter sports were not included in the decision. Council members declined to extend eligibility for student-athletes in sports where all or much of their regular seasons were completed," the statement read in regards to winter student-athletes.

Division 1 Council chair M. Grace Calhoun, athletics director at Penn University, extended her thoughts on the ruling. Schools will be left with roster choices and extending eligibility to qualifying spring athletes at their discretion.

“The Council’s decision gives individual schools the flexibility to make decisions at a campus level,” said Calhoun “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.”

According to Kendall Rogers of D1Baseball, roster limits for college baseball teams appear not to be a factor for the 2021 season. Any returning seniors would not count towards the typical 35/27-man roster limit - easing roster balance while teams still look to bring in high school prospects and transfers with further eligibility remaining.

When all is said and done, this ruling does right by the players who were seemingly left to dry in their final year of eligibility. For example, the Florida Gators baseball team - which began its season on a 16-game win streak and finishing in the nation's No. 1 spot at 16-1 - will be allowed to return key contributors such as infielder Kirby McMullen and outfielder/pitcher Austin Langworthy should they elect to.