Oct 15, 2020 - Sports

NCAA grants D-I winter athletes additional year of eligibility

An illustration of a red shirt

In an attempt to provide as much flexibility as possible amid a time of great uncertainty, the NCAA has granted all D-I winter athletes an additional year of eligibility — something that was already granted to all fall and spring athletes.

What they're saying: Grace Calhoun, who chairs the NCAA's D-I council and is the athletic director at Penn, said the council didn't want athletes choosing to redshirt because of fears that their seasons might be cut short or negatively impacted by the pandemic.

  • "We felt it was important to make this decision now so student-athletes had the peace of mind to go into this season and compete," she told ESPN.
  • "They know they can regain that eligibility and have their clock automatically extended, so they're not taking that chance on the front end if they choose to compete."

The other side: UConn women's coach Geno Auriemma doesn't like the rule and thinks a lot of his fellow coaches — particularly those with seniors — would agree.

  • "If you lose your season, I can see that," said Auriemma. "But how are you going to let somebody play a whole season and then give them another year?"
  • "I think you're going to have a lot of coaches that are going to go, 'You're putting me in a tough spot here.' Because now you're going to have some seniors go, 'Hey, I want to stay.' And then you've got a coach going ... 'I wasn't planning on you staying.' Now what are you going to do — turn the kid out?"

The big picture: Council members also voted to allow all football programs to compete in bowls this season (usually need a .500 record), while pushing forward with two more rule changes that could transform college sports long-term:

  • One-time transfer: The council will propose giving all athletes a one-time transfer, granting them immediate eligibility at their new school. Most sports already have this, but now football, men's and women's basketball, baseball and men's hockey will join them if the proposal is approved in January.
  • NIL rules: The council will also propose new rules on how athletes can make money from their name, image and likeness.
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