Sports

NCAA extends eligibility, adjusts rules for spring athletes

An athlete stands near a NCAA logo April 19, 2019, during a softball game in Beaumont, Texas. (AP Photo/Aaron M. Sprecher)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Division I Council of the NCAA on Monday decided to provide spring student-athletes an added season of competition and an extension of their period of eligibility.

The decision came after the NCAA canceled spring sports in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Winter sports were excluded from the decision. Council members declined to extend eligibility for student-athletes in sports where all or much of their regular seasons were completed. The NCAA earlier this month canceled this year’s men’s and women’s basketball championships shortly before teams were to be selected.

Michelle Brutlag Hosick, associate director of communications for the NCAA, made the announcement online.

Among other decisions of the council:

— Members adjusted financial aid rules to allow teams to carry more members on scholarship to account for incoming recruits and student-athletes who had been in their last year of eligibility who decide to stay.

— The council provided schools with the flexibility to give students the opportunity to return for 2020-21 without requiring that athletics aid be provided at the same level awarded for 2019-20. This flexibility applies only to student-athletes who would have exhausted eligibility in 2019-20.

— Schools can 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 rules limit student-athletes to four seasons of competition in a five-year period. The Council’s decision allows schools to self-apply waivers to restore one of those seasons of competition for student-athletes who had competed while eligible in the COVID-19-shortened 2020 spring season.

— The Council also will allow schools to self-apply a one-year extension of eligibility for spring-sport student-athletes, effectively extending each student’s five-year “clock” by a year. This decision 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 Council also increased the roster limit in baseball for student-athletes impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the only spring sport with such a limit.

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