The NCAA voted on Monday to give one additional year of eligibility to student-athletes in Spring sports, with means that Big 12 players in baseball, softball and other spring sports will not lose their year of eligibility after the league shut down all spring activities due to the COVID-19 coronavirus.
Athletes in winter sports, including men’s and women’s basketball, weren’t as lucky, as the NCAA did not approve an additional year of eligibility for them, despite the fact that there was no NCAA Tournament.
Student-athletes in baseball, softball, outdoor track and field, lacrosse, tennis, golf, rowing, men’s volleyball, beach volleyball and women’s water polo will retain an additional year of eligibility next season, regardless of classification. That’s key for seniors who were about a month into their final seasons of eligibility before the coronavirus overtook college sports.
All Division I schools may now apply self-waivers to provide athletes an additional year of eligibility in those sports. In order to accommodate the seniors, the NCAA is allowing schools to adjust financial aid rules and to expand rosters so those seniors are not pushed off the teams. Roster expansion was only an issue in baseball, the only such spring sport with a roster limit. The ruling gives schools the flexibility to determine how much aid to give returning seniors and access to the NCAA’s Student Assistance Fund to help pay for scholarships.
Left out of the decision is an NCAA policy on housing and meals. In the absence of a ruling, schools will have to work that out on their own.
The NCAA did the right thing in allowing those spring sport athletes to have an additional year of eligibility. But the winter sport players weren’t as lucky.
In explaining the decision, the NCAA noted in its release that most of the winter sports’ seasons were over. That’s true. For instance, college basketball was into its conference tournament season and had only the NCAA Tournament ahead of them.
But the cancellation of March Madness was a stinging loss for college basketball, the NCAA and its millions of fans. And the cancellation of March Madness, along with other spring sport competitions may end up costing each individual school anywhere from $500,000-$900,000 in athletic department revenue, per USA Today.
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