NCAA extends eligibility relief to spring athletes


Central Michigan's Mens' Baseball Team stands at attention during the national anthem before facing Miami May 16 at Theunissen Stadium.

Spring sport student-athletes have been granted an extra year of eligibility by the NCAA after their seasons were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

In a release from the NCAA, the decision is extended to all student-athletes, not just seniors whose careers would have ended this season. It also allows schools to expand their rosters past scholarship limits to account for newcomers joining the programs and for the seniors who were expecting to leave the team. 

Sports included in the eligibility extension are baseball, softball, tennis, golf and track and field. Winter sports — basketball, wrestling and gymnastics among others — were not included in the decision. 

The Division I Council increased the roster limit for baseball, the only spring sport with a limit, for the student-athletes affected by COVID-19. 

In the statement, the NCAA said financial aid flexibility will only be applied to student-athletes who would have exhausted their eligibility in 2019-20. The governing body will leave the decision to grant seniors in spring sports equal or less financial aid than what they received for the 2019-20 school year. 

Schools can use the NCAA's Student Assistance Fund to pay for scholarships for the athletes who utilize the eligibility extension in 2020-21. 

“The Council’s decision gives individual schools the flexibility to make decisions at a campus level,” said Council chair M. Grace Calhoun, athletics director at Penn. “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.”