NCAA D1 Council Recommends Eligibility Protections for Fall Sport Athletes

Zach Lancaster

STILLWATER -- Additional measures are being recommended in order to protect college athletes off the field as well. On Wednesday, the NCAA Division 1 Council met virtually to recommend the Division 1 Board of Directors adopt some form of minimum protections of eligibility for fall athletes who's sport is affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Council recommended the board provide fall sport student-athletes who compete and then opt out of future participation or have a season cut short due to COVID-19: (1) an extension of their five-year period of eligibility; and (2) an additional season of competition if they participate in 50% or less of the maximum number of competitions allowed in each sport by Division I rules.

Members will further discuss additional Board of Governors requirements, including a prohibition on canceling, reducing or not renewing athletics aid for student-athletes who opt out of participation due to COVID-19 and required medical coverage for COVID-19 if a student contracts the virus through sports participation. Members also will discuss financial aid limits for fall sports. Although that topic was not part of the board’s mandate, some Council members think providing schools some flexibility in this area is important.

“In this time of uncertainty, the Council members are working to create additional flexibility for college athletes whose seasons have been negatively impacted by the pandemic,” said Council chair M. Grace Calhoun, athletics director at Pennsylvania. “Every day things are changing in college sport, and we want to be as responsive as possible, with the best information, to help student-athletes and their families make important decisions for their future. The Council worked hard today and will seek members

Similar rules were put in place to protect the spring athletes as all spring sports were canceled back in March.

The NCAA D1 Council also announced it would be extending the temporary recruiting dead period for all sports through Sept. 30, 2020.

Obviously, this news comes in light of the Big Ten and Pac 12 canceling their 2020 fall football seasons in hopes of playing them in the spring of 2021.

While the Big 12 has announced they will move forward with its 2020 fall sports schedule, this rule recommendation could greatly benefit Oklahoma State athletes should the fall schedule be postponed to the spring of 2021 or canceled.

Big 12 schools, including Oklahoma State, have started implementing fan safety measures that also include limiting the number of fans in the stands, required face masks and no tailgating.

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