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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.

Go deeper

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
Jul 9, 2020 - Sports

College sports stare down a coronavirus-driven disaster in the fall

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Wednesday was the worst day in college sports since March 12, when the coronavirus pandemic shut everything down.

Driving the news: The Ivy League announced that it will cancel all fall sports and will not consider resuming sports until Jan. 1, 2021 — and Stanford is permanently cutting 11 of its 36 varsity sports to help offset a projected $70 million, pandemic-fueled deficit.

Dec 15, 2020 - Economy & Business

Sports podcast company Blue Wire raises $5 million Series A

Photo of Blue Wire CEO Kevin Jones, Photo credit: Olivia May

Blue Wire, a sports podcast company, has raised $5 million in its series A round, founder Kevin Jones tell Axios.

Why it matters: The company, which focuses on long-form sports narrative podcasts and conversational podcasts, now hosts more than 140 podcasts with over 20 million downloads for the year. It has $1.5 million in 2020 revenue via sponsorship partnerships via brands like Chevy and Visa.

Updated 44 mins ago - Sports

Simone Biles won't compete in individual vault or uneven bars Olympic finals

Photo: Loic Venance/AFP via Getty Images

Simone Biles will not compete in the individual vault or uneven bars finals at the Tokyo Olympics, USA Gymnastics announced Friday.

Why it matters: USA Gymnastics said Biles, who previously withdrew from the individual all-around and team finals to prioritize her mental health, will continue to be evaluated to determine if she'll compete in the balance beam or floor exercise events.

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