NCAA Approves Extra Year of Eligibility to All Spring Athletes, Winter Sports Not Included
On Monday, the NCAA Division I Council voted to allow all spring athletes whose seasons were cut short due to the COVID-19 outbreak, to be granted an extra year of eligibility. Winter sports were not included in the council's decision due to the fact that most winter sports had completed their regular seasons.
Scholarship athletes who would have exhausted their eligibility in the 2019-2020 year will now be awarded financial aid in 2020-2021 through the NCAA's Student Assistance Fund.
"Members also adjusted financial aid rules to allow teams to carry more members on scholarship to account for incoming recruits and student-athletes who had been in their last year of eligibility who decide to stay.
"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."
It'll be up to each individual university to determine how much of a scholarship seniors that wish to return to school will ultimately receive.
LSU athletic director Scott Woodward weighed in on the NCAA's decision Monday evening.
"It's going to be expensive, but I think it's worth it. I think it's worth our student-athletes having another opportunity if they want that," Woodward told the Advocate.
In particular for baseball, any seniors that return to school will not count against the 35 man roster limits. Instead, roster limits for baseball will essentially be scrapped as there will be no set number on how many scholarships can be given. The NCAA states it will be up to each university to control how many extra scholarships are allowed based on what the university can afford.
“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.”