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REPORT: NCAA approves waiver allowing schools to offer extra year of eligibility to spring athletes

It makes sense, but with the NCAA you never know.

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Big news was released in the world of college sports today.

All NCAA Division I spring student-athletes will receive the option of an extra year of eligibility for their sport, according to a Monday evening news dump from the organization.

According to The Athletic, the NCAA voted on the decision Monday to allow a blanket waiver that schools could apply to grant student-athletes an extra year of eligibility for the missed season. On March 12, the NCAA announced the cancelation of all 2020 athletic competitions through the remainder of the school year amidst growing concern due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Essentially, this decision places the power in the hands of schools when it comes to determining how to move forward with all of its spring athletes stripped of a season. The official NCAA press release says that schools will be able to “self-apply a one-year extension of eligibility for spring-sport student-athletes, effectively extending each student’s five-year ‘clock’ by a year.” Winter student-athletes will not be able to receive the waiver.

“The Council’s decision gives individual schools the flexibility to make decisions at a campus level,” Council chair and Penn AD M. Grace Calhoun said in the press release. “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.”

This piece from The Athletic does a good job of laying out the complex implications of this new NCAA ruling (Option B in the article), and the attention will now shift to respective universities as individual schools and athletic departments have to make difficult decisions regarding the financial feasibility of extending an extra year of eligibility to 2020 spring athletes.

Although the NCAA said in the ruling that it would be flexible with its scholarship and financial aid requirements for athletic programs, this decision is likely not going to play out so simply for schools. With departments across the country set to lose major amounts in revenue due to the canceled winter/spring seasons, it’s hard to foresee a scenario in which every athlete who wants that extra year of eligibility actually receives it.

But overall, it’s good news that should serve the college sports community well.