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NJCAA to Grant Extra Eligibility to All 2020-21 Athletes

Brock Fritz

The COVID-19-impacted 2020-21 school year will not cost any National Junior College Athletic Association athletes eligibility.

The NJCAA announced Thursday that the Board of Regents voted to determine that 2020-21 fall, winter and spring seasons won’t count toward student-athlete eligibility — whether or not athletes choose to play this year.

"The Board of Regents feels this decision is best for the success and well-being of our student-athletes and member colleges at this time," NJCAA president and CEO Dr. Christopher Parker said in the release. "There is no right answer to this challenge and situation, but as an association, we are going to support the eligibility of all our student-athletes to help them succeed in their academic and athletic careers."

Athletes that choose to return after this year will be considered “non-counters.” According to ESPN, the decision means that athletes could get a third year of junior college eligibility, or they could play at one of the 512 NJCAA schools this year before transferring and getting four years at a four-year institution.

NJCAA basketball games are scheduled to begin Jan. 2. The football season was postponed until the spring, with March 1 practice and March 25 games.

"The uncertainty surrounding the pandemic has put collegiate sports in a very challenging situation," NJCAA Eligibility Committee chair Troy Tucker said. "Today's decision by the Board of Regents to grant a blanket year of participation waiver provides our institutions and student-athletes with the ability to choose to participate this academic year without the fear of using a year of eligibility for a potentially shortened or interrupted season."

Related content: NJCAA Expected to Move to Spring Football Season

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