NCAA Rules Schools Can Grant Eligibility Waiver to Spring Sport Athletes

Harry Soenksen | The PhoenixThe MVC announced Aug. 14 that all fall sports will be postponed.

After their seasons were cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic, spring sport athletes could receive an extra year of eligibility, the NCAA announced Monday night.

The NCAA Division I Council ruled schools can offer eligibility waivers to all spring sport student-athletes, meaning they could play another year if the school chooses to offer it. 

That means senior members of the Loyola men’s volleyball, golf, softball and track and field teams could come back for another year if they’re academically eligible. Winter sports — including men’s and women’s basketball — can’t be issued a waiver since the majority of their regular seasons were completed, according to the ruling. 

The ruling also allows for schools to offer less aid or match what they offered this year should those senior athletes come back. Schools can use the NCAA’s Student Assistance Fund to help pay for scholarships, the committee ruled.

“In a nod to the financial uncertainty faced by higher education, the Council vote also 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,” the NCAA said in a press release. “This flexibility applies only to student-athletes who would have exhausted eligibility in 2019-20.”

The committee also said it would change scholarship requirements to allow for incoming recruits and potential returning seniors. 

“The Council’s decision gives individual schools the flexibility to make decisions at a campus level,” Division I Council chair Dr. M. Grace Calhoun, the athletics director at the University of Pennsylvania who served as Loyola athletics director from 2011-14, said in a statement. “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.”

March 12, Loyola announced its remaining sport seasons would be canceled as part of efforts to contain COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus.

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