NCAA to Extend Eligibility for Division I Spring-Sport Athletes

Jake Kocorowski

Good news for student-athletes who participate in spring sports, as the NCAA Division 1 Council announced on Monday that it would "allow schools to provide spring-sport student-athletes an additional season of competition and an extension of their period of eligibility."

There are finer details to the decision, however, as seen below as part of the statement released:

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.

Schools also will have the ability to use the NCAA’s Student Assistance Fund to pay for scholarships for students who take advantage of the additional eligibility flexibility in 2020-21.

Division I rules limit student-athletes to four seasons of competition in a five-year period. The Council’s decision allows schools to self-apply waivers to restore one of those seasons of competition for student-athletes who had competed while eligible in the COVID-19-shortened 2020 spring season.

The Council also will allow schools to self-apply a one-year extension of eligibility for spring-sport student-athletes, effectively extending each student’s five-year “clock” by a year. This decision was especially important for student-athletes who had reached the end of their five-year clock in 2020 and saw their seasons end abruptly.

Wisconsin programs that compete in the spring include rowing, softball, tennis and outdoor track and field.'s Mark Schlabach also reported the full lists of spring sports that the eligibility waivers could be claimed for.

However, the NCAA noted that their decision does not include the winter sports. 

"Council members declined to extend eligibility for student-athletes in sports where all or much of their regular seasons were completed," it said in the statement. 

Even if that opportunity was granted, UW men's basketball guard Brevin Pritzl told earlier this month that he would not take it.

"I’ve already played my five years," Pritzl said. "I've done five years of schooling. I have a bachelor's and a master's degree after this spring. If I still had to finish a master's program, I think that would be enticing, but considering I'm pretty much done with it, it’s not really worth starting a whole new program just to play another year.

"I think the age difference would really get me. Eighteen year olds to a 24-year-old who’s married, I think it’s a lot to overcome.”

This article will be updated.