The Atlantic 10 Conference has asked the NCAA for a blanket waiver that would permit redshirt players to serve as emergency fill-ins for up to four games as teams struggle to maintain full rosters amid the COVID surge.
As reported by The Athletic, NCAA rules don't allow redshirt players to appear in a single game without burning a full year of eligibility. The requested waiver would apply to all Division I basketball — men’s and women’s — and only for this year.
Atlantic 10 commissioner Bernadette McGlade told The Athletic that she submitted the proposal on Jan. 4, after a host of games were canceled, including 19 in her own league. Coaches have been reluctant to exhaust redshirt seasons to fill roster spots for a single game, but if redshirts had been allowed to compete without penalty, four of the 19 games canceled in the A10 would have been played, McGlade said.
She hoped the policy would be put in place immediately, but the NCAA requested clarification on some points. It will now be part of the agenda for the men’s and women’s oversight committees, which meet next Tuesday at the NCAA Convention. If the committees endorse the proposal, the Division I council can vote to enact them immediately, at their meeting on Wednesday.
"We are basically down to conference games at this point," McGlade said. “We want to make sure we get through the season. But as my colleagues have been saying about a lot of stuff, there is an expiration date on this. We need to get it in place."
In light of COVID-19 outbreaks, conferences enacted policies that included a bottom-line number on how many players a team needed to have available in order to play its game. Most leagues, including the Atlantic 10, settled on seven players and one coach. But the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, coupled with the number of asymptomatic positives, is wreaking havoc on schedules, forcing teams to squeeze postponed games into already crowded slates, The Athletic's Dana O'Neil reported.
Selection Sunday is two months away, and the NCAA has not yet lowered its required 25 games to be NCAA Tournament eligible. Most teams have played around 12 to date.