The NCAA Division I Council announced Monday evening it had voted to “allow schools to provide spring-sport student-athletes an additional season of competition and an extension of their period of eligibility.”
The decision does not include winter-sport student-athletes, with council members deciding not to extend the eligibility of student-athletes who finished all of or most of the regular season in their final year of eligibility.
“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 the University of Pennsylvania, 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.”
With the decision comes some adjustments to financial aid rules, allowing teams to have more players on scholarship in order to account for both new players entering the program and those using this extra year of eligibility.
Another financial change announced in the release was that schools have the flexibility to allow student-athletes to return without requiring that the same athletics aid be awarded in 2019-20. This only impacts student-athletes whose last year of eligibility was 2019-20.
The statement also said, “Schools also will have the ability to use the NCAA’s Student Assistance Fund to pay for scholarships for students who take advantage of the additional eligibility flexibility in 2020-21.”
Division I student-athletes are limited to four seasons of competition within a five-year period, and the Council’s decision allows schools to self-apply waivers which restore one season of eligibility for those who competed in the shortened spring season.
Also allowed by the decision is for schools to effectively extend the five-year period by self-applying a one-year extension of eligibility. The release stated that the latter “was especially important for student-athletes who had reached the end of their five-year clock in 2020 and saw their seasons end abruptly.”
The final note made in the release is that the baseball roster limit will be increased for student-athletes impacted by the pandemic. Baseball is the only spring sport with such a limit.