For maybe the first time ever, the NCAA has done the right thing.
As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on across America and the world as a whole, every sport at every level has been impacted in some way. But not many were hit harder than college seniors in spring sports such as baseball, softball, lacrosse and more. The timing of the season suspensions and eventual cancellations meant that their collegiate careers came to an unfortunate and early end.
That all changed Monday night, as The Athletic reported that the NCAA has granted student-athletes in spring sports affected by COVID-19 an extra year of eligibility.
Source tells @TheAthleticCFB that the NCAA Division I Council has approved blanket waiver for all spring-sport athletes to get an extra year of eligibility. Schools will be able to offer less (or zero) aid or match what they provided this year. Up to each school for each athlete.— Nicole Auerbach (@NicoleAuerbach) March 30, 2020
This ruling means that schools can match the aid they provided during this lost spring season, no aid at all, or somewhere in between for each athlete. Schools will also be to accommodate student-athletes that were seniors this semester as they will not count towards the usual financial aid limits that the NCAA enforces.
Winter sport athletes were also part of the discussion at one point, but their waiver requests were denied according to Brett McMurphy.
NCAA will allow all spring semester student-athletes additional year of eligibility, sources told @Stadium. 1st reported by The Athletic. FInancial aid for seniors that return are exempt from financial aid limits & winter semester athletes were denied an extra year, source said— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) March 30, 2020
While it’s a bummer that some basketball stars like Christian Vital and Crystal Dangerfield officially don’t have a chance to make one last NCAA tournament run, granting eligibility for spring sport athletes was a no-brainer, and it’s nice to see that the NCAA saw it that way, too.
Of course, just because the NCAA has allowed this to happen does not necessarily guarantee that UConn will participate. The athletic department has operated in a deficit for years now, and the school, like so many other public schools during this time, has been hit hard by the financial effects of COVID-19.
UConn has rightfully refunded students for unused housing and meal plan fees, and president Thomas Katsouleas has requested between $50 million and $110 million from the federal government, citing $39 million in lost revenue already between just the Storrs and Stamford branches for this spring semester.However, if Big East schools decide to honor this waiver in some way, shape or form, UConn would likely follow suit.
For student-athletes set to graduate this year, it’s likely that only a small fraction take the NCAA (And their respective schools) up on this offer as they move on to life after college or the professional ranks of their sport. But for a chunk of spring student-athletes, they’ll at least have the option to finish their collegiate careers playing the game they love.
This is a breaking news story and will updated accordingly.