NCAA Board Grants Fall Athletes Extra Year of Eligibility

The Division I Board of Directors has rubber stamped a blanket waiver effectively giving anyone participating in football soccer, volleyball and cross country a fifth -- and in some cases sixth -- year of eligibility
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The NCAA Division I Council on Wednesday approved a proposal to grant all fall athletes an extra year of eligibility, even if they play their sport during a 2020-21 season.

On Friday, the Division I Board of Directors rubber stamped the legislation in a video conference, effectively giving anyone participating in football soccer, volleyball and cross country a fifth -- and in some cases sixth -- year of eligibility.

It’s a similar ruling to the one that awarded spring sports athletes an extra year of eligibility after their seasons were cut short by the coronavirus pandemic in March.

“We want to provide opportunities for student-athletes whenever possible,” acting board chair Denise Trauth, president of Texas State, said. “We understand it will be complicated and different and we’re not certain how it will look. But we believe it’s important to try to give students that championship experience.”

In addition to blanket eligibility waiver, the NCAA board also approved a measure that allows that fall championships that have already been canceled can be played in the spring if they can be conducted safely and in accordance with federal, state and local health guidelines.

The following are other COVID-19 related protections for athletes approved by the NCAA on Friday:

  • Schools are prohibited from requiring student-athletes to waive legal rights regarding COVID-19 as a condition of athletics participation.
  • Schools are prohibited from canceling or reducing athletics scholarships if a college athlete in any sport opts not to participate due to COVID-19.
  • Student-athletes who do not enroll full time during the 2020 fall term have flexibility in the progress-toward-degree requirements that must be met for eligibility in future terms.

Seniors that take advantage of the extra year will not count against their teams' roster and scholarship limits in 2021-22

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