The NCAA Division I Council is reportedly considering offering fall student-athletes an extra year of eligibility.
A similar discussion happened this spring, when the NCAA allowed schools to determine whether or not they would finance extra eligibility for spring athletes whose seasons were canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic. The NCAA also eased roster size restrictions in spring sports for this year. Those issues have now bled into the fall, as all NCAA championships have been canceled and many schools and conferences have opted to sit out fall competition.
Therefore, the NCAA Division I Council’s Wednesday meeting will likely end with recommendations regarding extra eligibility and the potential of holding fall sports championships in the spring of 2021, according to The Associated Press. The Division I Board of Directors will reportedly vote on any recommendation during its Friday meeting.
The DI Council made a recommendation on a similar eligibility issue last week, suggesting that student-athletes who opt out of 2020 fall sports due to COVID-19 concerns receive an extra year of eligibility. The same offer would be made to student-athletes that participate in 50% or less than the maximum number of allowed competitions.
West Virginia athletic director Shane Lyons, a member of the DI Council and head of the NCAA’s football oversight committee, wants extra eligibility for all fall sports athletes — even if they play this year.
“We talk about the student-athlete experience and definitely the season’s going to be different,” Lyons said, according to The AP. “Why charge these student-athletes with a year of eligibility? That’s one thing they don’t have to worry about.”
When athletes were allowed extra eligibility this spring, some universities immediately granted it to anyone wishing to return, some attempted to raise money during financial difficulties and some chose not to pursue waivers for any spring athletes.
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The NCAA has been relatively flexible amid the pandemic, including dropping standardized test requirements for student-athletes initially enrolling during the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years.
”Given the continuing impact of COVID-19, the NCAA membership made this decision with the health and well-being of incoming students top of mind,” NCAA Eligibility Center vice president Felicia Martin said in the NCAA’s release. “We understand the uncertainty in the educational environment and believe these changes will help ensure students have a fair opportunity to meet the initial-eligibility standard.”
Related content: NCAA Drops Standardized Test Requirement for 2021-22