NCAA Division I Council Extends Eligibility for Spring-Sport Student-Athletes

Ashley Barnett

The NCAA's Division I Council granted spring student-athletes an additional year of eligibility on Monday.

The decision allows schools to self-apply waivers for an extra year of eligibility for the spring student-athletes whose seasons had ended abruptly by the COVID-19 pandemic. The extension of eligibility greatly benefits fifth-year student-athletes. 

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

The Council will also allow baseball teams an increase of their roster size limits - the only spring sport who had such a limit.  

Seniors opting to return will not count towards the 35/27 roster limit according to D1Baseball's Kendall Rogers. 

Financial aid rules were also adjusted to allow teams more scholarship members to accommodate for the incoming recruits and/or the senior student-athletes who opt to stay for an additional year. 

In a nod to the financial uncertainty faced by higher education, the Council vote also provided schools with the flexibility to give students the opportunity to return for 2020-21 without requiring that athletics aid be provided at the same level awarded for 2019-20. This flexibility applies only to student-athletes who would have exhausted eligibility in 2019-20.

- NCAA

The winter-sport student-athletes also affected by the novel coronavirus were not included in the decisions made by the Council. The Council denied an extra year of eligibility for winter-sport student-athletes - including basketball. 

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