NCAA Grants Additional Year of Eligibility to Spring Athletes

Winter sports like basketball and hockey, though, will not make the cut

The NCAA logo is seen during the Division II Women's Soccer Championship. (Timothy Nwachukwu/NCAA Photos via Getty)
The NCAA logo is seen during the Division II Women's Soccer Championship. (Timothy Nwachukwu/NCAA Photos via Getty)
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By Evan Bleier / March 31, 2020 10:14 am

Though their seasons ended early (or, in some cases, didn’t even begin) thanks to COVID-19, spring athletes in the NCAA will have the chance to get back on the field next year regardless of how far along they are in their college career.

On Monday, the NCAA Division I Council voted to grant an extra year of eligibility to all student-athletes — not just seniors — in spring sports. The council also voted to adjust the financial aid rules to allow teams to carry more members on scholarship, but it will be up to schools how they divide the money among incoming recruits and student-athletes who had been in their last year of eligibility.

For seniors who do want to return for a fifth year to play sports, they’ll seemingly have to enroll in another undergraduate program, begin graduate school or transfer to another school. NCAA athletes playing baseball, lacrosse, golf, softball, rowing, tennis, outdoor track and field, women’s water polo, men’s volleyball and beach volleyball are all impacted by the decision. 

Unfortunately, even though their postseasons were cut short by the pandemic, winter sports like basketball and hockey are not affected.

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

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