NCAA to grant additional eligibility to spring-sports athletes

The NCAA responded with atypical promptness to the outcry raised over its decision to cancel its spring sports championships because of the spread of the coronavirus by offering an extra season of eligibility to spring-sports athletes. The NCAA made the announcement Friday, a day after its decision to cancel all remaining championship events for its winter and spring sports.

“Council leadership agreed that eligibility relief is appropriate for all Division I student-athletes who participated in spring sports,” read a statement from the Division I Council Coordination Committee. “Details of eligibility relief will be finalized at a later time.”

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There will be a number of questions to answer, starting with how the NCAA will adjust the scholarship limits for each sport as coaches retain seniors but also bring in freshmen who had been expected to take the seniors’ scholarship slots. Another question is whether the NCAA will offer financial support to member schools to help pay for the extra grants.

The measure figures to be particularly meaningful to seniors, who will have an opportunity to compete in a final season, although there is hope among college athletics administrators such as Georgia Tech athletic director Todd Stansbury to resume competition once it is deemed safe to do so. An online petition begun Thursday by a member of the track and field team at Iowa, a senior, had obtained about 172,000 signatures by Friday afternoon.

It’s possible that the eligibility of winter sports athletes may be addressed, too, according to reports.