Even as NCAA winter sport student-athletes may get something close to a normal length of competitive season during the coronarvirus pandemic, the NCAA Division I Council nevertheless voted on Wednesday to allow those athletes an extra year of eligibility regardless of what happens during the 2020-2021 year.
The ruling is similar to the extra year afforded to spring and fall sports athletes. Teams will get to carry extra scholarships, for one year, to accommodate seniors who wish to exercise another year of eligibility.
“The pandemic will continue to impact winter sport seasons in ways we can’t predict. Council members opted to provide for winter sport student-athletes the same flexibility given spring and fall sports previously,” said Council chair and Pennsylvania Athletic Director Grace Calhoun. “The actions today ensure the continuation of local decision-making in the best interest of each institution and its student-athletes.”
The decision to offer extra years is up to the school’s discretion; Nebraska, to this point, has generally allowed its coaches and student-athletes to decide in concert how to proceed. One of the best women’s golfers in NU history, Kate Smith, will return for a fifth season, for example.
The ruling affects all NCAA levels and a wide variety of sports, including basketball, hockey, wrestling, gymnastics, rifle, skiing and indoor track and field. These sports had their national championships canceled last spring by the NCAA just as the COVID-19 outbreak spread across the United States.
Creighton senior guard Tatum Rembao — one of two seniors on CU’s women's basketball team — said she’s talked to her family about the potentiality of another season of eligibility.
"I think about it more from an academic standpoint,” Rembao said. “I'm going to get my degree in May. So then does Creighton have my Masters program that I want to look into? Can my body continue to play basketball after this year? Do I want to just get into my career? There's a lot of questions that go into it. I don't think there's one thing that would push me over the edge."