The NCAA moved Monday to basically decree that this spring college season never happened across all sports. Spring-sports athletes will be given an extra season of eligibility, college sports’ national governing body announced.
There is a wrinkle, though. The NCAA is leaving it up to schools to decide if the same scholarships are made available for the extra year, or any money at all.
The NCAA decided not to give an extra year for winter sports athletes, “where all or much of their regular seasons were completed.”
Spring athletes in Division II and Division III had already been granted the extra year.
Penn athletic director Grace Calhoun is the chairman of the Division I Council. “The Council’s decision gives individual schools the flexibility to make decisions at a campus level,’’ Calhoun said in a statement.
“Totally understandable,’’ said La Salle University lacrosse senior Emily Talluto, hearing that news. “Case by case.”
Talluto had been hoping for an extra year anyway, she said, since she barely saw the field as a freshman. That wasn’t looking good. Now, she hopes to pursue a one-year masters’ degree in strategic communications.
A better scenario than how this season ended, with a last practice, no game ahead, Talluto and several other seniors walking away during the practice to catch up to their emotions.
Now, Talluto said, “I’ll start the application process.”
“There will be costs associated with renewing their scholarships for an extra year," Jefferson University athletic director Tom Shirley said before the decision was officially announced. “Plus, squad sizes grow, as do travel and equipment costs. Meanwhile, the freshmen who thought they were going to play right away, sit behind a fifth- or sixth-year senior. Do they transfer at Christmas break?”
Last week, St. Joseph’s athletic director Jill Bodensteiner had said she was focused on the financial implications of this expected decision.
While this is a feel-good decision, and a logical one, it comes at a time when college athletics will be reeling from the effects of the coronavirus shutdown. While some seniors may decide to move on with their lives, there is the possibility of having five full classes on teams. That will have its own ramifications.
The NCAA noted schools could look into using the NCAA’s Student Assistance fund to pay for scholarships for students “who take advantage of the additional eligibility flexibility in 2020-21.”