Coronavirus: NCAA D-I schools can offer spring sports athletes extra year of eligibility, extend their seasons

Coronavirus: NCAA D-I schools can offer spring sports athletes extra year of eligibility, extend their seasons
FILE - In this March 18, 2015, file photo, the NCAA logo is displayed at center court as work continues at The Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, for the NCAA college basketball tournament. NCAA President Mark Emmert says NCAA Division I basketball tournament games will be played without fans in the arenas because of concerns about the spread of coronavirus. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)

UPDATE @ 10:04 p.m.: The NCAA Division I Council on Monday voted to allow schools to provide spring sports student-athletes an additional season of competition and an extension of their period of eligibility.

Neil Sullivan, University of Dayton vice president/director of athletics, said:

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"The University of Dayton fully supports the flexibility for institutions to make decisions at the campus level, and work with affected student-athletes on their eligibility and their individual paths forward.”

The Wright State University Department of Athletics released this statement:

“We are appreciative of the NCAA Division I Council’s swift actions in allowing for an additional season for our spring sport student-athletes and for permitting schools to make their own determinations on how to best proceed. There are still details to be ironed out, and we will work closely with both our coaches and student-athletes as we move forward in this process.”

INITIAL REPORT

The NCAA Division I Council on Monday evening voted to allow schools to provide spring sport student-athletes an additional season of competition and an extension of their eligibility in reaction to the coronavirus pandemic.

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.

WHIO.com has reached out to several area universities -- Dayton, Central State, Miami, Wright State and Xavier -- for comment on the announcement from NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis.

Winter sports -- basketball being the chief sport -- were not included in the decision.

In reaction to the financial uncertainty faced by higher education because of COVID-19, 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 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 grant 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 years in 2020 and saw their seasons end abruptly.

“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 bovernors 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.”

Council members declined to extend eligibility for student-athletes in sports where all or much of their regular seasons were completed.

The council also increased the roster limit in baseball for student-athletes affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the only spring sport with such a limit.