NCAA will allow spring sports seniors another chance in 2021

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By Garry Smits/Florida Times-Union

The NCAA will permit spring sport athletes who had their seasons shortened by the coronavirus outbreak to have an additional year of eligibility.

The NCAA Division I Council voted Monday to give college athletes who compete in spring sports such as baseball, softball and lacrosse a way to get back the season they lost, but did not guarantee financial aid.

Winter sports were not included in the decision. Council members declined to extend eligibility for student-athletes in sports where all or much of their regular seasons were completed.

How much scholarship money will be made available to each athlete will be determined by the athlete’s school. The amount could range from nothing to as much the athlete received the year before.

“The Council’s decision gives individual schools the flexibility to make decisions at a campus level,” Division I Council chair M. Grace Calhoun, athletics director at the University of Pennsylvania, told ESPN.com. “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.”

The Council also increased the roster limit in baseball for student-athletes impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the only spring sport with such a limit.

Last week, NCAA president Mark Emmert expressed concerns about schools being able to incur the additional scholarship costs in the current economic environment.

“The next 12 months are going to be extremely hard on a lot of colleges and universities, especially small colleges that aren’t going to have tuition revenue,” Emmert told ESPN at that time. “They’re going to have high costs because they sent their students away, but they still have all of their costs. They’re not going to have any revenue from their endowments because of the crash of the stock market. The revenue from the tournaments isn’t going to be there, and the revenue from us is unlikely to be as big as it has been in the past.

“So then to turn around and say, ‘By the way, we’re going to increase the cost of your student athletics program,’ that’s a challenge. For the big schools that are the high-revenue institutions, that’s a whole different deal. You have to remember that college sports is, of course, something 1,100 different schools do, and the business models for all of them are very different.”