It has now been over two weeks since the NCAA canceled the remainder of the 2019-20 athletic season due to the public health threat of the novel coronavirus-caused, COVID-19 pandemic. Even though that amount of time has passed, there remain several questions about how college sports are going to continue operate going forward.
This is the fourth article in a continuing Pittsburgh Sports Now series on those questions and the difficult answers for them, as the world of college athletics moves through unprecedented territory during the ongoing pandemic.
The NCAA Division I council has voted to allow spring sports athletes impacted by the coronavirus pandemic-related cancellation of the 2019-20 spring sports calendar an additional season of eligibility.
In a statement released after Monday’s vote, the council, which is made up of members from each Division I conference, as well as student athletes and faculty representatives, both granted spring sports athletes an extra season of eligibility, an extension of their five-year playing window and adjusted financial aid rules to allow for those athletes to remain on scholarship and accommodate the incoming freshman class.
Winter sports athletes that had their championship season cut short by cancellations will not receive relief.
Schools that cannot afford the additional scholarships can use the NCAA’s student assistance fund to help offset the cost. The level of funding for each returning student athlete that would have otherwise exhausted their eligibility will be determined on a case-by-case basis by each school.
“The Council’s decision gives individual schools the flexibility to make decisions at a campus level,” council chair and Penn athletic director M. Grace Calhoun said in a 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.”
Baseball, which is the only spring sport with a firm roster limit, will have that upper limit increased.