The NCAA Division I Council voted on Monday to allow schools to provide student-athletes an additional season of competition and an extension of their period of eligibility if they participate in a spring sport, according to a press release.
“Winter sports were not included in the decision,” the release states. “Council members declined to extend eligibility for student-athletes in sports where all or much of their regular seasons were completed.”
The advisory panel voted to adjust the financial aid rules to allow teams to carry more members on scholarship to account for incoming recruits and those student-athletes who decide to stay, the release reads.
“In a nod to the financial uncertainty faced by higher education, the Council vote also provided schools with the flexibility to give students the opportunity to return for 2020-21 without requiring that athletics aid be provided at the same level awarded for 2019-20,” the release states. “This flexibility applies only to student-athletes who would have exhausted eligibility in 2019-20.”
Schools will also have the ability to use the NCAA’s Student Assistance Fund to pay for scholarships for students who take advantage of the eligibility extension, the release states.
The NCAA established a coronavirus advisory panel — led by NCAA Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brian Hainline and a team of leading medical, public health and epidemiology experts — to guide its response to the outbreak of the coronavirus disease on March 3, a press release states.
The advisory panel also increased the roster limit in baseball for student-athletes impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, which was the only spring sport with such a limit, according to the release.
Currently, Division I rules limit student-athletes to four seasons of competition in a five-year period.
The eligibility extension allows schools to self-apply waivers to restore a year to a student-athlete who competes in a spring sport and saw their season abruptly end, the release states.
“The Council’s decision gives individual schools the flexibility to make decisions at a campus level,” said Council chair M. Grace Calhoun, athletics director at Penn. “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.”