NCAA Grants Free Year of Eligibility for Fall Athletes

NCAA granted free year of eligibility

Today, the NCAA Division I Board of Directors approved an extra year of eligibility for athletes in fall sports seasons and an extra year for them to complete it. According to ESPN, “The board on Friday also determined that schools can’t require student-athletes to waive their legal rights regarding COVID-19 as a condition of participation. Schools are also prohibited from canceling or reducing scholarships if an athlete decides not to participate because of COVID-19.” Because several of the conferences (including the Power Five’s Big 10 and Pac-12) postponed their fall seasons or cancelled them altogether, the NCAA while following their Division I Council’s recommendation created a loophole for college athletes to participate in the 2020 season (if they are allowed to) and maintain an extra year of eligibility through a blanket waiver. The Board also determined that athletes have legal rights in regard to COVID and participation that can’t be waived by their schools, and that universities cannot eliminate or put scholarships on hold for the athletes that choose to not participate in 2020 seasons. The final major decision reached this morning is that fall championships will be held in the spring, if possible, since many schools aren’t even having their seasons take place in September. This is fantastic news for not only athletics programs, but also specifically for the student-athletes and their rights. While the NCAA is notoriously oppressive to athletes, I’m not surprised that they took the position they did and granted everyone and extra year of eligibility. It would make no sense to penalize athletes at the schools that aren’t having fall seasons while other conferences have full schedules. This ruling means that Baylor football players like QB Charlie Brewer, RBs Trestan Ebner and John Lovett, CB Raleigh Texada, WR Jared Atkinson, S Jairon McVea, K Jay Sedwick, OL Xavier Newman-Johnson, and many others can technically play in the 2020 fall season (if there is one) and still return next year if they want to. Although I don’t expect any of them will come back, this is still a great opportunity and option for Baylor!