One piece of the puzzle to the NCAA’s questions on eligibility surrounding the cancellations from the COVID-19 pandemic has been answered.
The NCAA Division I Council voted Monday in favor of giving college athletes who participate in spring sports, like baseball and softball, an extra year of eligibility. The decision comes nearly three weeks after the NCAA canceled all winter and spring sports and championships for the 2019-20 academic year as a result of COVID-19.
With that said, the NCAA’s decision does not guarantee financial aid for student athletes. Schools will choose the assistance they are able to provide, ranging from less or zero aid to matching what they previously provided the athlete in the 2019-20 academic year. Schools will be able to use the NCAA’s Student Assistance Fund to pay for scholarships for those that choose to accept the additional 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 Penn. “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.”
Teams will also be allowed to carry additional athletes on scholarship in 2020-21, an allowance that impacts baseball, the only spring sport with a roster limit. This allows schools to plan for both incoming recruits while maintaining the seniors who choose to return.
Winter sports were not included in the NCAA’s decision. The NCAA Division I Council declined to extend eligibility for those in sports where all or most of the regular seasons had been completed prior to the decision.
Nebraska has 40 seniors who will have the ability to return for another season. That includes athletes from both men’s and women’s track, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s tennis, baseball and softball.
Erin is the Deputy Editor and Digital Marketing Strategist for Hail Varsity. She has covered Nebraska athletics since 2012, which has included stops at Bleacher Report, Cox Media Group’s Land of 10, and even Hail Varsity (previously from 2012-2017). She has also been featured on the Big Ten Network, NET’s Big Red Wrap-Up, and a varsity of radio shows nationwide. When not covering the Huskers, Erin is probably at Chipotle.