NCAA plans to extend eligibility of spring sports athletes
NEW YORK (AP) — The NCAA is planning to extend the eligibility of athletes on spring sports teams by one year to make up for the season lost to the new coronavirus.
The details of how the extra eligibility will work are still being ironed out.
All three NCAA divisions would potentially allow another year for athletes in the 14 spring sports, which include baseball, softball, lacrosse and golf. The decision comes after the NCAA announced Thursday that its winter and spring championships would be canceled as a precaution against the spread of the coronavirus.
Some, but not all, conferences have announced that their spring sports teams would not continue their regular seasons.
“I think for the spring sports athletes, its a good idea. I like the idea of some kind of a make-good there and that’s the way to do it,” Big East Commissioner Val Ackerman said Friday.
The NCAA Division I Council Coordination Committee sent an email Friday notifying schools of its intention. The proposal is expected to pass.
“Details of eligibility relief will be finalized at a later time,” the NCAA said in a statement. “Additional issues with NCAA rules must be addressed, and appropriate governance bodies will work through those in the coming days and weeks.”
The NCAA needs to figure out logistics including scholarship limits, roster size and a few other nuances.
The association also is trying to determine what — if anything — it could do for winter-sport athletes. In basketball, many of the top players will have headed to the pros already, so granting another year wouldn’t do much for them.
“I am appreciative that the NCAA is now considering the impact on student-athletes not having a postseason in women’s basketball,” Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said in a statement. “It is still my hope that if the current situation improves, the NCAA will make every effort to revive the championship this year. If not, I hope they give serious consideration for seniors to have an additional year of eligibility.”
Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin said he plans to push for legislation that would allow seniors to return to school and for roster exemptions that would help make it happen.
“I think any senior who had a championship opportunity taken away because of this should get another year,” he said Friday. “I don’t know if the NCAA will take that up. But you have track athletes, you have gymnasts, you have swimmers and divers, and basketball, that what they worked for all year was taken away. I think we should give those kids another year. Whether that happens or not, I don’t know.
“Yeah, we’ll have that conversation,” he said. “That makes a lot of sense and it’s the humane, fair thing to do.”
North Carolina lacrosse attacker Katie Hoeg, who is a two-time All-American and the school’s all-time leading scorer, has a teaching and coaching job lined up after she graduates this spring. She said she will make arrangements to return for some grad courses and play lacrosse next year if she’s allowed.
“I’m choosing my passion,” Hoeg said. “I can’t imagine ending my lacrosse career the way this season is going. I was pretty hopeful this would be a possibility. I’m really excited this decision has been made. It’s such a weird circumstance. This has never happened before. It would be pretty unfair to have our careers or have this year taken away from us. I do agree with their decision because of the circumstances.”
The Ivy League, which hasn’t allowed athletes to pursue a fifth year at their schools in the past, said it is “working with our schools to identify and consider various issues, including those related to the ongoing eligibility of senior spring student-athletes.”
The NCAA also informed schools on Friday that a recruiting dead period is now in effect through April 15, banning all on-campus visits for recruits and off-campus recruiting travel for coaches.
AP Sports Writers Mark Long and Eric Olson contributed to this report.
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