NCAA D1 Council extends eligibility for spring-sport athletes

Tanya Simon
March 31, 2020

"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".

SC athletics director Ray Tanner said a few weeks ago that he was completely in favor of spring-, and even winter-, sport athletes getting a year of eligibility back.

Scholarship limits will go up in 2020-21, but the catch is that schools will have the option to offer the same, lesser or no financial aid to those getting an extra year of eligibility.

The NCAA did not include winter sports in the decision by a council vote as well, given that all or much of their seasons were finished by the NCAA decision to cancel championships.

Granting eligibility relief to athletes whose seasons were cut short seems like a reasonable solution, particularly because many spring teams had only just begun their schedules.

Currently, Division I rules limit student-athletes to four seasons of competition in a five-year period.

It will be up to the Division I schools to assume financial responsibilities to account for the additional scholarship positions.

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Giving winter-sport athletes the year of eligibility was also on the table, but the Division I Council declined to do so, citing that all or at least most of their respective seasons were complete. That included calling off the NCAA tournament for the first time in its 81-year history.

More good news came for the Georgia baseball program when the NCAA voted to increase the sport's roster limit to accommodate returning players The current limit is 35.

"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 a year ago of eligibility who decide to stay".

For spring athletes, they will regain the year of eligibility they lost. "We're all working through it, but bottom line, this was the right thing to do for the student-athletes".

Concerns over the financial implications cast some doubt on whether the NCAA Council would approve the measure on Monday.

Schools will also be permitted to reduce or eliminate the scholarship aid being provided to those athletes who were seniors in 2020, effectively turning them into walk-ons for their repeat senior seasons.

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