The NCAA will permit Division I spring-sport athletes — such as baseball, softball and lacrosse players — who had their seasons shortened by the coronavirus pandemic to have an additional year of eligibility.
The NCAA Division I Council voted Monday to give spring-sport athletes regardless of their year in school a way to get back the season they lost, but it did not guarantee financial aid to the current crop of seniors if they return to play next year.
Winter sports, such as basketball and hockey, were not included in the decision because many athletes in those sports had completed all or most of their regular seasons, the council decided.
How much scholarship money will be made available to each athlete whose college career would have ended this spring will be determined by the athlete’s school. The amount could range from nothing to as much the athlete received had been receiving.
The added scholarships could cost a school hundreds of thousands of dollars more than it would usually spend on spring-sport athletes. The extra expenses come at a time when athletic departments could be facing cutbacks. The pandemic forced the cancellation of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, which cut the association’s distribution to members by $375 million this year.
Schools will be able to use the NCAA’s Student Assistance Fund to pay for scholarships for students who take advantage of the additional eligibility in 2020-21.
Roster and scholarship limits for teams will be adjusted next season to fit returning seniors and incoming freshman. Similar changes have already been approved in Division II.