NCAA spring athletes will be given an extra year of eligibility, the NCAA Division I Council announced Monday.
The ruling does not offer extended eligibility to winter athletes, including seniors and those who missed out on championship competition due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Spring student-athletes whose last year of eligibility would have been 2019-20 are not guaranteed their full scholarship next year. Schools will decide how much aid they will provide those athletes on an individual basis, ranging from the full amount they received this year to no aid at all.
Schools will be able to use the NCAA’s Student Assistance Fund to pay for scholarships for the student-athletes who choose to return for their extra year of eligibility.
“The Council’s decision gives individual schools the flexibility to make decisions at a campus level,” chair of the NCAA Division I Council M. Grace Calhoun said in a statement Monday. “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.”
The NCAA will also allow Division I rosters to carry more student-athletes on scholarship due to incoming recruits and athletes who had been in their final year of eligibility choosing to stay for another year.
In addition, baseball programs will see their roster limit expanded from 35 to a currently unspecified number. Baseball is the only spring sport with a roster limit.
USC athletic director Mike Bohn expressed his approval of the decision in a statement on Twitter Monday night.
“The last several weeks have been difficult for our student-athletes, especially the more than 50 spring sport student-athletes confronted by expiring competition eligibility,” the statement read. “I’m pleased that within three weeks of the decision to cancel spring sport championships the NCAA Division I Council voted to create the possibility for our spring sport student-athletes to compete with their teammates for an additional year. I want to thank President [Carol] Folt for partnering with me to advocate for student-athlete eligibility relief.”
USC lacrosse senior attacker Hope Anhut, who is also the president of the Trojan Athletic Senate, shared her thoughts on the NCAA’s decision Monday night via USC Women’s Lacrosse on Twitter.
“The past few weeks have been filled with uncertainty for us all, but knowing that it’s now possible to represent USC on the field again is such a gift,” Anhut said. “We are all in this together, so please support each other and most importantly, stay safe and stay healthy. As always, it is an honor and a privilege to be a part of this [Trojan] family.”
On Sunday, student-athletes from the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee representing various Power Five schools released a joint statement to recommend an extra year of eligibility for all spring athletes as well as winter athletes who did not get the chance to compete in championship play.
“We are aware that eligibility relief presents extreme challenges for universities and the NCAA. Our job is to stand up for what we believe is right and fair for athletes,” the SAAC statement read. “Now, more than ever, it is imperative for our college athlete community to unify and support each other by standing up for what accurately represents the unified voice of college athletes.”
The NCAA Division I Council Coordination Committee had agreed to recommend eligibility relief for spring student-athletes on March 13, though until Monday, there had been no official ruling by the NCAA.
This story was updated on March 31 to reflect new information.